Living up to a mountain of hype, American Pharoah won the 141st Kentucky Derby Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Trainer Bob Baffert secured the fourth Derby victory of his career -- his first since 2002. It was the fourth straight victory for American Pharoah.
Jockey Victor Espinosa won his second straight Derby and third of his career aboard the 3-year-old colt, staying with the top of the pack until moving up on the outside in the final stretch.
In front of a record crowd of more than 170,000 spectators, American Pharoah finished first by a length, followed by Firing Line second and Dortmund in third. A 5/2 favorite throughout the build up to the first leg of the Triple Crown, more than $7 million was placed on American Pharoah with a payout of $7.80 for those who picked the victor.
Firing Line gave American Pharoah an incredible test throughout the home stretch, with the two neck and neck until Espinosa took over the final 200 yards. Espinosa also rode 2014 winner California Chrome.
“Yes, I feel like the luckiest Mexican on Earth,” Espinosa said.
Starting out of the No. 18 post, Espinosa had to angle American Pharaoh from wide right of the track to just away from the post where Firing Line and Dortmund were already battling.
From there, Espinosa sat behind Firing Line and Dortmund and made that perfect move on the final turn, using the kick that gave American Pharoah an eight-length victory at the Arkansas Derby.
Only 18 thoroughbreds competed in the first leg of the Triple Crown, with Stanford, El Kabeir and International Star all scratched in the last two days.
Bred in Kentucky by Zayat Stables, owner Ahmed Zayat was elated afterwards.
“We’ve been very close. We feel honored,” Zayat told NBC. “This is a very special force. We are very privileged to have a special trainer and we are beyond blessed”
Baffert too expressed disbelief and was thankful for his two contenders and their abilities.
“I’m so lucky to be in this position,” Baffert said. “American Pharoah and Dortmund ran their races, and its just American Pharoah, he keeps bringing it, and he makes a trainer look good.
“I’m standing here for the fourth time I can’t believe how lucky I am.”
The full race can be watched below.