LOUISVILLE, KY — The most-talked-about horse heading into
 Saturday's Kentucky Derby wasn't the odds-on favorite and winner, 
Always Dreaming. It was the one-eyed Bay Colt whose victory in the 
Run for the Roses would've been an unlikely dream come true. Patch,
 a 3-year-old novice in high-stakes races, may not have won the race,
 but he clearly won hearts across the country.
Introduced Saturday evening to the Kentucky Derby crowd at
 Churchill Downs, the crowd let out an emotional, throaty cheer
 for Patch. After a three-minute-plus race on a sloppy track, Patch
 finished 14th.
Of course, the folks at this Patch fell in love with the plucky, half-blind
 youngster, too, from our newsroom to the boardroom. There's just 
something about an underdog who keeps running, and running, and 
running — though the experts didn't give him a chance in hell of 
competing, let alone winning — that appealed to us. Maybe it's the 
affection millions of fans feel for Patch, too, that moved us.
Whatever the reason, we pooled our hard-earned pennies and bet on 
Patch. A week out, the odds were 40-1, but at post time, the odds were
 13-1. The heart wants what the heart wants, it would seem, and many
 lovestruck gamblers wanted Patch to see his way to the Derby's 
finish line first. More than $2 million was wagered on his unlikely 
The Sporting News fell in love with Patch, too, just for his name. 
Out of the 20 Kentucky Derby entrants, Patch's name was ranked
 as the best name.
"He's what you would call a beloved old faithful dog. And as the

one-eyed 30-to-1 "dark horse" everyone loves ... it's hard to find

a sweeter name than that."
The horse was named Patch before a mysterious ailment struck his
 left eye one year ago. Swollen shut and seeping, a veterinarian 
treated the eye with antibiotics for a few weeks before deciding the
 eye couldn't be saved. Patch was in a lot of pain. The eye was removed
 in June 2016.
“It was heartbreaking for me,” his trainer, Todd Pletcher, told 
Thoroughbred Today. Pletcher was afraid the horse would need a
 lot of retraining, too. His dad, J.J. Pletcher, took up the cause in
 Ocala, Florida.
Get free real-time news alerts from the Across America Patch.
"I was concerned that it might compromise his ability in some way
 or the way he carried himself," Pletcher said in an interview with 
USA Today this week. "If you watched him train and didn't know
 that he had one eye, there’s no indication of him doing anything
 peculiar in his training or in his races that would make you concerned
 about the one eye."
A few weeks in, according to Bloodhorse.com, the Pletchers realized 
one eye was just as good as two for this horse. He didn't need special
He started in the 20th post position, which meant all the horses 
were positioned to his blind side to start the race. Patch has run
 in just a handful of races, but he's run well. He recently finished 
second in the Louisiana Derby. According to his Derby bio:
Patch provided an impressive performance in only running twice

prior to his start in the Louisiana Derby, which happens to be his

first graded stakes. He previously ran in two maiden special weight

races at Gulfstream Park in January and February of 2017, finishing

a close second in one and winning the other.A second-place finish

for Patch in the Louisiana Derby earned him 40 qualifying points

on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, putting him in 11th place with

a month to go until the 143rd edition of the Run for the Roses.
Patch is "a really, really cool horse to be around," Pletcher told 
Bloodhorse. "Very professional, very straight forward, easy to 
train. He's just a consummate pro."
No matter where Patch finished, Pletcher got to celebrate.
 Always Dreaming was a Pletcher horse, too.
Go Patch! You keep dreaming! And so will we.

Top photo: Kentucky Derby entrant Patch is bathed during morning workouts ahead of the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2017, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)