Super Saver , with Calvin Borel up, took the lead in the stretch while coming up along the rail to win the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) (VIDEO) by 2 ½ lengths. WinStar Farm’s homebred son of Maria’s Mon gave trainer Todd Pletcher his first Derby win.
It was another two lengths back to Make Music for Me in fourth.
Conveyance went to the lead and set a blistering pace over the sealed going. He flashed under the wire the first time in front and was followed by Sidney's Candy, Line of David, Discreetly Mine, and Mission Impazible . The opening quarter was run in :22.63 and the opening half was a brisk :46.16.
Borel had Super Saver on the rail around the first bend and down the backstretch in a stalking position. In the early stages, Ice Box was last and Make Music for Me was next to last.
“I had him where I wanted,” Borel said after the race. “I got him off the pace and he relaxed real good. I learned a lot the last time I rode him (in the Arkansas Derby). The first time I rode him, I won on the lead, but in the last race, I took him back and learned a lot about him.”
Super Saver came to the Derby off a neck loss to Line of David in the April 10 Arkansas Derby (gr. I). In his 3-year-old debut he was third, beaten a half-length by Odysseus and Schoolyard Dreams in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). Last year, the colt won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs under Borel.
This is the first Derby victory as an owner for WinStar, Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner’s farm on Pisgah Pike in Woodford County, Ky. And their second as a breeder. They bred 2003 winner Funny Cide.
As an owner, WinStar had 10 runners in the Derby prior to this year, with their best running coming in 2006 with a runner-up effort from Bluegrass Cat .
It is the second Derby winner for sire Maria’s Mon, who also is the sire of 2001 winner Monarchos. Maria’s Mon was euthanized in September 2007 of multiple organ dysfunction.
Super Saver is out of the A.P. Indy mare Supercharger, who traces back in tail-female line to grade I winner Dance Number, a blue hen mare for the Phipps family and a direct descendant of the great La Troienne. Supercharger’s dam, Get Lucky (by Mr. Prospector), is a full sister to Travers (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Rhythm.
Super Saver was the early favorite in the wagering after Oaks day and went off the second choice in the 20-horse field. Super Saver paid $18, $8.80, and $6. Ice Box returned $11.20 and $8 and Paddy O’Prado paid $7.40 to show. The exacta, 4-2, paid $152.40. The trifecta paid $2,337 and the superfecta, with fourth-place finisher Make Music for Me, paid $202,569.
Much has been made of Pletcher’s record in the Derby and was 0-for-24 prior to today’s running. With four starters in the field, he is now 1-for-28.
Devil May Care, the lone filly in the cast and a member of Pletcher’s contingent, finished 10th as the 40th filly to run in the Derby. She was seeking to join Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980), and Winning Colors (1988) to win the Run for the Roses. The last filly to run in the Derby was Eight Belles, who broke down after finishing second to Big Brown in 2008.
Pletcher’s other runners were Mission Impazible, which finished ninth, and Discreetly Mine, the 13th across the wire.
“It’s a joy,” Pletcher said right after the race of getting his first win. “People said we had one with our name written on it. I didn’t take anything for granted. It feels awfully good.”
It is a bit of vindication for Pletcher after the defection of early favorite Eskendereya who was withdrawn from consideration last week due to a filling of edema in a leg.
“This colt has just been getting better and better,” Pletcher said. “We were kind of playing catch up earlier in the year, but after the Arkansas Derby, he just really moved forward.”
Lookin At Lucky , who broke from post 1, was the favorite in the 20-horse field at 6-1. He was jostled around early and shuffled back, rallying to finish sixth.
"I lost all chance at the post position draw when I drew the 1 (post with Lookin At Lucky)," trainer Bob Baffert said after the race. "Everything had been going smooth and great and then, boom, right in the 1 hole. I had a bad feeling about it.
"I quit watching him after the first bump," he said. "He was done. I wish (jockey Garrett Gomez) would have pulled him up. That's horse racing. You have good luck and bad luck and I've been lucky to win this race and other guys have had bad luck."
Trainer Nick Zito was pleased with Ice Box's performance.
"I couldn't get lucky enough to beat Calvin, but my horse did get me second," Zito said. "He ran a great race. I have to be happy with the way he ran today. He put in a great run."
Paddy O'Prado's trainer Dale Romans said, "He ran so big for us. I thought we were going to win. He just ran super. You couldn't ask for any more from the horse."
Even with the wet and blustery conditions, attendance for the Derby was 155,804, the sixth largest crowd for a Kentucky Derby.
As a bonus to the Kentucky Derby and it's coverage by NBC, a promotion by the CNBC network offered one winner a $100,000 bet on the Derby. Glen Fullerton was the winner and he placed his bet on Super Saver, which is now worth $900,000.
"I studied the PPs and knew Super Saver had success over a wet track and Calvin Borel had success here. It was just a gut feeling," Fullerton said. "This is life-changing but I don't have to spend it all in one week."