Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable's favored Orb stormed to the lead in the stretch of a sloppy Churchill Downs strip to win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The homebred son of Malibu Moon covered the 1 1 /4 miles in 2:02.89 and topped Golden Soul by 2 1/2 lengths (VIDEO).
The winning rider was Joel Rosario, the hottest jockey in the world off his record-breaking Keeneland meet and a victory aboard Animal Kingdom in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-I) this spring.
Orb delivered the first Derby for Hall of Fame trainer and Lexington native Shug McGaughey.
"It means everything to me," McGaughey said. "I'm thrilled to death for the Phipps and Janney (families) and all the people involved with the horse."
McGaughey had sent out six runners in the Derby before this year. The pair of Pine Circle (sixth) and Vanlandingham (16th) were his first in 1984; Seeking the Gold was seventh in 1988; the favored entry of Easy Goer and Awe Inspiring ran second and third in 1989; and Saarland was 10th in 2002.
The pace was swift over a sealed track. The Todd Pletcher-trained Palace Malice was the unexpected early leader, shooting immediately to the front and zipping through :22.57, :45.33, and 1:09.80 fractions under Mike Smith. He had a three-length lead down the backstretch after a half-mile and six furlongs.
As the pace wilted up front, Normandy Invasion made his way to the front in early stretch under Javier Castellano, but Orb was advancing, clear and widest of all around the final turn. After a mile was completed in 1:36.16, Orb had advanced to sixth position. He collared the leader inside the eighth pole and drew clear of the field while drifting about under steady handling from Rosario.
"This race is really special," Rosario said. "You can see all these people, I mean, it's something really unbelievable to see. Like right now I feel like I win the Kentucky Derby, it's like a dream. I feel so good right now, I can't explain to you how I feel."
Golden Soul, angled out for the drive, came on strongly from far back under Robby Albarado. Revolutionary, with Calvin Borel up, came up the rail for third but was too late to catch the winner.
"We got beat by a great horse," said Dallas Stewart, trainer of Golden Soul. "He ran terrific. I'm so proud of Robby. He vindicated himself. He's just a great rider and gave this horse a great ride. And (owner) Chuck Fipke, what can I say? One of the best ever.''
It was a disappointing finish for trainer Todd Pletcher, who started five, including Revolutionary, and saw his career record in the Derby dip to 1-for-36.
"I thought he ran super," Pletcher said of Revolutionary, the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner. "He got shuffled back farther than we thought and he had to keep waiting to try to make up ground. But when he could start running, he did really well. He closed strongly and just ran out of ground."
Pletcher said Palace Malice (12th) went too fast early and couldn't maintain that tempo, while Overanalyze (11th) and Verrazano (14th) did not have the sort of trips they needed. Charming Kitten (ninth), he said, performed well in his first try on dirt.
Trainer Doug O'Neill, looking for consecutive Derby wins with Goldencents, said the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner was in good position "and for some reason he didn't fire today. They aren't machines so you never know. He came back in good shape and we are all bummed but this horse has been so great."
Orb, the 5-1 choice, paid $12.80, $7.40, and $5.40. Golden Soul paid $38.60 and $19.40, and Revolutionary returned $5.40. The 16-4 exacta paid $981.60.
Normandy Invasion was followed by Mylute, Oxbow , Lines of Battle, Will Take Charge , Charming Kitten, Giant Finish, Overanalyze , Palace Malice, Java's War, Verrazano, Itsmyluckyday , Frac Daddy, Goldencents, Vyjack, and Falling Sky.
Mylute's fifth-place finish under Rosie Napravnik was the best in Derby history for a female rider.
"We were right inside of Orb the whole way and I knew we were in good shape," Napravnik said. "We did have to go around but it was a clear run. It was an exhilarating feeling at the quarter pole knowing that I had a shot. I have never wanted to win a photo for third so bad in my life. The horse ran great and the best part is I think he's really going to move forward off of this and I'm looking forward to his next race."
Rosario won the Derby with his fourth mount. His best previous finish was with Make Music for Me, who ran fourth in 2010.
Orb broke his maiden in his fourth try at 2 last November at Aqueduct Racetrack. He came into his own this winter in South Florida.
Orb won an allowance/optional claiming race Jan. 26 at nine furlongs. He then came from sixth to win the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and was ultra-impressive winning the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park March 30
Four-for-four this year and the winner of five in a row, Orb has a 5-0-1 mark from eight starts and has earned $2,280,900.
The Kentucky-bred winner is the fourth foal out of the Unbridled mare Lady Liberty. Lady Liberty won four races in her career. She is out of the Cox's Ridge mare Mesabi Maiden, who won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) in 1996 for Janney III and McGaughey. Mesabi Maiden also placed in the Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II), New York City Astarita (gr. II), and Anne Arundel (gr. III). Mesabi Maiden is out of the stakes-winning Steel Maiden, a half sister to Private Terms, the beaten Derby favorite behind Winning Colors in 1988.
Private Terms and Steel Maiden are out of the Janney family's Laughter, a half sister to the legendary Ruffian and top sires Icecapade and Buckfinder.
Malibu Moon, a son of A.P. Indy—Macoumba, by Mr. Prospector, was bred by B. Wayne Hughes. A winner of one of two starts, Malibu Moon began his stud career at the Pons family's Country Life Farm in Maryland and was later moved to Hughes' Spendthrift Farm near Lexington.
Janney and Phipps are first cousins. Janney is chairman of Bessemer Trust Company and Bessemer Securities Corp., which was founded by his great-grandfather Henry Phipps and Andrew Carnegie.
Phipps Stable is operated by Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps. Phipps' grandmother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, operated Wheatley Stable from 1926-70. Phipps' father, Ogden, finished second in the Derby twice with Dapper Dan (1965) and Easy Goer.
In 2006 the Phipps sold Supercharger, while in foal to Maria's Mon, for $160,000. The resulting foal was 2010 Derby winner Super Saver for WinStar Farm.
This year's Derby was worth $2,174,800, with $1,414,800 going to the winner. The runner-up earned $400,000, third-place $200,000, fourth-place $100,000, and the fifth-place finisher received $60,000.
Attendance at Churchill Downs on Derby Day was reported as 151,616, the ninth-largest in the history of the race.