A record crowd of 165,307 was on hand at Churchill Downs for Derby 138, topping the 164,858 announced last year.
Bodemeister went for the early lead in the 1 1/4-mile Derby and set a quick opening quarter of of :22.32 the first time past the wire. He was followed by Trinniberg, Daddy Long Legs, Hansen, Gemologist , Take Charge Indy , and I'll Have Another. Bodemeister took command of the field after an opening half-mile in :45.39 while being chased by Trinniberg with Hansen following in third.
Bodemeister spurted away from his rivals after six furlongs in a blistering 1:09.80--the co-fourth fastest six furlongs in Derby history--and reached the quater pole with a three-length lead after a mile in 1:35.19. Only Spend a Buck (1985), Kauai King ('66), Unbridled's Song ('96), and Congaree (2001) have run faster miles in the Derby.
"He was doing it easily; he was within himself," said Bob Baffert, trainer of 4-1 favorite Bodemeister. "That's the way he wanted to run. I told Mike (jockey Smith), 'Look, if he breaks great and feels like running, we can win it."
Giving chase was Hansen while I’ll Have Another came into the lane four wide and fourth at that point. Even wider was Dullahan and Went the Day Well. Coming determinedly under Mario Gutierrez, I’ll Have Another wore down the leader erased a three-length lead in the final furlong to win the Run for the Roses. The final time was 2:01.83.
"He just got tired," Baffert said of the runner-up. "I was really proud of him. He's a super impressive horse."
It was Gutierrez’s first Derby mount. The 25-year-old rider from Mexico began his career in Canada and was a leading rider at Hastings Racecourse before coming to Southern California.
I’ll Have Another paid $32.60, $13.80, and $9. Bodemeister returned $6.20 and 5.60 and Dullahan was $7.20 to show. The 19-6 exacta returned $306.60. The Oaks/Derby double with Believe You Can paid $731.20.
O’Neill was sending out only his third Derby starter. In 2007 he saddled Reddam’s Great Hunter and Liquidity to 13th and 14th place finishes, respectively.
I’ll Have Another becomes the first horse in Kentucky Derby history to win from post 19.
The complete order of finish behind Went the Day Well was Creative Cause , Liaison , Union Rags , Rousing Sermon, Hansen, Daddy Nose Best, Optimizer, Alpha, El Padrino , Done Talking, Sabercat, Gemologist, Trinniberg, Prospective , Take Charge Indy, and Daddy Long Legs.
I’ll Have Another came into the race off wins in the Feb. 4 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 7.
"That race (the Lewis) really surprised me," O'Neill said. "They wanted to try that spot to see if he was a Derby horse and then he repeated that in the Santa Anita Derby. Maryland, here we come!
"When you tell people you're in the horse racing game they ask you, 'Have you won the Kentucky Derby?' Now I can say, 'Yes, I have.'"
The Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the second leg of the Triple Crown, will be run May 19 at Pimlico Race Course just north of Baltimore.
The Derby winner was sold for $11,000 as a yearling at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale. Selling during the 12th session of the 14-day sale, Victor M. Davila signed the ticket on the colt out of the Brookdale Sales, agent, consignment. As a 2-year-old, Dennis O’Neill, the trainer’s brother, bought I’ll Have Another for $35,000 out of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April sale from Eisaman Equine, agent.
Flower Alley, the sire of the Derby winner, ran ninth behind Giacomo in the 2005 Derby. He stands at Robert Clay's Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky. His fee for 2012 is $7,500.
The Derby was worth $2,219,600, with $1,459,600 going to I’ll Have Another. He now has a 4-1-0 slate from six starts and earnings of $2,093,600.
As a 2-year-old, I’ll Have Another won first time out at Hollywood Park July 3. After a runner-up effort to Creative Cause in Del Mar’s Best Pal Stakes (gr. II), I’ll Have Another was shipped to Saratoga where he ran sixth, beaten 19 lengths, by Currency Swap in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) on a sloppy track in what was his final start as a juvenile. I'll Have Another came out of the race with shin problems and was given plenty of time to recover before his return in the Lewis Stakes.
“To win a race like this you need a plan,” said J. Paul Reddam. “And since this winter, pretty much everything has gone according to plan. When we came to Kentucky--he did his primary work in California--everyone was kind of wondering about that. Doug had a plan and he followed the plan and the horse was doing super every day."
Reddam, a longtime participant in racing who sponsors the grade I CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park, also owned Wilko, who ran sixth in in the 2005 Derby. He has had Breeders' Cup success with Red Rocks and Wilko. He is the president of CashCall, a finance company in California.