A sloppy, rain-drenched Churchill Downs still made for one of the faster races in Kentucky Derby history Saturday, and Orb used it to his advantage as he scored a thrilling victory in the 139th running of the first race of the Triple Crown.
As the pack made the final turn on the mile-and-a-quarter track, Orb first bolted from the outside to the middle, and then pulled away to the finish line with jockey Joel Rosario of the Dominican Republic.
Just behind the winning Orb was Golden Soul placing second and heavy-favorite Revolutionary showing third.
The track had been downgraded to sloppy after a quarter-inch of rain fell throughout the day. The grounds crew employed heavy rollers in an effort to secure a more solid top layer, but to little avail.
To avoid affecting the race and in the interest of safety, crowd members were banned from using umbrellas, and they instead huddled around Churchill Downs in ponchos.
Riding with a hot hand this year, Rosario set a Keeneland spring-meeting record with 38 winners, while also winning the Dubai World Cup in March.
Trainer Claude R. “Shug” McGaughey III, a native of Lexington, Ky., earned the first Derby win of his already decorated career. McGaughey was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2004 thanks in part to his work with such accomplished horses as the undefeated Personal Ensign.
Orb’s owners, Stuart Janney III and Dinny Phipps of the Phipps Stable, picked up $1.4 million of the $2 million purse.
A detailed breakdown of the payouts can be viewed here at the Derby’s official site.
The field was whittled down to 19 horses after Black Onyx was scratched Friday because of a bone chip in a front leg and his alternate, Fear the Kitten, couldn’t be added.