In the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, Orb emerged from a 19-horse field to take home the rose bouquet in the latest installment of the most exciting two minutes in sports.
Golden Soul, Revolutionary and Normandy Invasion rounded out the top four at Churchill Downs on an overcast, muddy day at the track on Saturday afternoon.
Ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Shug McGaughey, Orb hovered back at the gate but made his move around the final turn, winning by two lengths and giving Hall of Famer McGaughey his first-ever Derby winner (h/t Mark Story of the Lexington Herald-Leader):
With this first leg of the Triple Crown now under his belt, Orb can take aim at winning the Preakness and Belmont Stakes later this year. Two more wins at Pimlico Race Course and Belmont Park would make him just the 12th winner of the three-race sweep.
With a clean start from the gate, the field was extremely contested heading into the first turn. Java's War was really the only horse that struggled out of the gate, while the rest of the field stayed tight until the front-runners started to emerge.
Palace Malice jumped out in front ahead of Goldencents and Verrazano at the turn and held the position all the way into the back stretch. Five horses all jockeyed to win the race from the front heading into the stretch.
Normandy Invasion took the late lead around the final corner, but down the back stretch Orb stormed all the way back from being in the bottom five to overtake Palace Malice, Goldencents, Verrazano and Golden Soul en route to the Derby victory.
|2013 Kentucky Derby Results|
|1||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||16||5-1||$12.80 (win)|
|2||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado ||Dallas Stewart||4||34-1||$38.60 (place)|
|3||Revolutionary||Calvin Borel||Todd Pletcher||3||6-1||$5.40 (place)|
|5||Mylute||Rosie Napravnik||Tom Amoss||6||15-1|
|6||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas ||2||24-1|
|7||Lines of Battle||Ryan Moore||Aidan O'Brien ||11||31-1|
|8||Will Take Charge||Jon Court||D. Wayne Lukas ||17||36-1|
|9||Charming Kitten||Edgar Prado ||Todd Pletcher ||15||33-1|
|10||Giant Finish||Jose L. Espinoza ||Anthony W. Dutrow ||7||38-1|
|11||Overanalyze||Rafael Bejarano ||Todd Pletcher||9||16-1|
|12||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||10||23-1|
|13||Java's War||Julien Leparoux ||Kenny McPeek ||19||21-1|
|14||Verrazano||John R. Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||14||8-1|
|15||Itsmyluckyday||Elvis Trujillo ||Eddie Plesa Jr. ||12||9-1|
|16||Frac Daddy||Victor Lebron||Kenny McPeek ||18||25-1|
|17||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill ||8||7-1|
|18||Vyjack||Garrett Gomez||Rudy Rodriguez ||20||18-1|
|19||Falling Sky||Luis Saez||John Terranova II||13||39-1|
Winner of the Florida Derby, Orb had trained well at the track in the week leading up to the Derby. He and Joel Rosario knew how to play the field to the tune of a storming pace down the stretch, and this is his fifth straight win after winning a maiden race.
Orb, Verrazano, Goldencents and Revolutionary had been the favorites at the track all week, and the favorites proved to be the best bet on a muddy track and a dreary day for the 139th running of the event, with the exception of Golden Soul—a horse with 34-1 odds when the race began that made a late push on the inside of the track.
Each of the four favorites coming into the Derby had won its last race, making things extremely difficult for oddsmaker Mike Battaglia when factoring in past finishes, pedigree, training at the track this week and post positions for every horse.
He picked right when taking Orb with 7-2 odds on Wednesday afternoon (h/t ESPN), and the McGaughey horse was slightly ahead of Revolutionary at 5-1 when the race began.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who had a record-tying five horses in the Derby, did not duplicate his Kentucky Oaks success (1-3-4 finishers). Only one of his horses (Revolutionary) was in the money, and both Verrazano and Palace Malice faded down the stretch.
Verrazano would finish a distant 14th, while other disappointing performances included Itsmyluckyday (15th), Goldencents (17th) and Vyjack (18th). Falling Sky would be the final finisher of the day, despite the official listing that will say post No. 1 came in last (Black Onyx was scratched from No. 1 on Friday).
Now that the Kentucky Derby is over, the focus will immediately turn to the Preakness Stakes. It's been 35 years since we've seen a Triple Crown winner (Affirmed in 1978), and Orb now has a chance to etch its name in the history books this racing season.
Saturday's race was yet another reminder of what the Kentucky Derby has become—an astounding showing of high-caliber horses, passionate fans and a sport that has stood the test of time over and over again.
Lucky for us, the 140th running will be here before we know it.
Follow Ethan Grant on Twitter: Follow @DowntownEG