05/03/2017 2:26PM

Schettino rooting for old charge Always Dreaming in Kentucky Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Dominick Schettino trained Always Dreaming for the horse’s first two starts.

Dominick Schettino will watch Saturday’s 143rd Kentucky Derby with mixed emotions.

As the original trainer and co-owner of Always Dreaming, Schettino can’t help but feel some remorse about no longer having a stake in a horse who has a very live chance to win the world’s most famous horse race.

“Am I upset to have lost a quality horse like that? I’d be lying if I said no,” Schettino said. “Of course I want to win the Derby. So does everybody else in this business. How many people win the Derby? But picking them out for people who are good to me … I hope he wins it. I think he’s going to.”

Schettino was part of the team that selected Always Dreaming out of the Keeneland yearling sale in September 2015. A son of Bodemeister, Always Dreaming sold for $350,000 to Anthony Bonomo and his wife, Mary Ellen. The horse made two starts for Schettino, finishing third at Belmont and second at Saratoga.

At the end of the Saratoga meet, the Bonomos merged their stable with Vinnie and Teresa Viola. The majority of horses were moved to trainer Todd Pletcher.

Schettino said Always Dreaming was on his shortlist of horses to try to buy at the Keeneland sale.

“I just liked him,” Schettino said. “He was a little bit small but well balanced. I remember three mornings in a row, I was there outside his stall. I liked his demeanor, his conformation was good, and I liked his bloodlines.”

Schettino said Always Dreaming has the combination of speed and stamina to be a major threat in the Triple Crown series.

“He has natural ability. He has speed and the endurance to go those classic distances,” Schettino said.

Though he no longer trains for the Bonomos or the Violas, he said he was grateful for the opportunity he was given. In 2015, he trained Greenpointcrusader for them. That horse won the Grade 1 Champagne and was favored in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

“That’s why I want to see him win the Derby,” Schettino said. “They’re great people. They’ve been good to me. If it wasn’t for both of them, I wouldn’t have won the Champagne.”

Schettino has 21 horses based at Belmont Park, a compilation of New York-breds and claimers. Dublin Girl, a New York-bred 3-year-old filly, won the Maddie May Stakes for statebreds at Aqueduct in January.

“It’s very hard to go from getting well-bred horses to trying to rebuild,” Schettino said. “This is a tough business. You need numbers, and you need well-bred horses to win races like that. You don’t have to be the most expensive horse. The better bloodlines, the better chance you have.”