If you want to know what a perfect race looks like, take a gander at Joel Rosario's Kentucky Derby trip with Orb on Saturday afternoon:
And that is why it's called The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. The famed race isn't over until a thoroughbred officially crosses the line, especially with an All-Star duo like Orb and Rosario lurking behind the pack.
Just look at where Rosario sat right before the first turn:
That, of course, was the result of a blistering opening pace (via Daily Racing Form's Byron King):
Byron King @DRFByronKing
@KentuckyDerby splits and final time 22.57,45.33 1:09.80, 1:36.16, 2:02.89; #DERBY5/4/2013, 11:05:36 PM
Since 1990, there have been only five derbies that showcased a faster two-furlong opening split than 22.57 seconds—and just two with a faster four-furlong split than 45.33. Rosario intelligently realized the hasty pace in muddy conditions, and decided to wait for the opening pack to slow.
Most importantly, he didn't panic.
He waited for as long as possible, and then right before the third turn, Rosario made his push. It's difficult to see in the video—he was seemingly lost in the back of the pack—but if you watch the trackers (Orb is No. 16) at the bottom of the screen starting at that moment in the race, the spectacular comeback stands out even more.
The final straightaway was where the magic really happened, though (via Trakus Racing):
Orb's final quarter mile winning the Kentucky Derby was :25.88, the only horse in the race to break 26 seconds. #Derby5/4/2013, 10:53:30 PM
It helps when you have a horse capable of making up time in that kind of fashion, but Rosario deserves credit for conserving Orb's energy throughout a race in which he had to travel farther coming from the outside (via Trakus racing):
In the Kentucky Derby, Orb covered 80 feet more than Golden Soul - that's the equivalent of 9 1/2 lengths. The actual margin was 2 1/2.5/4/2013, 10:48:52 PM
Simply put, Rosario—who is putting together a historically productive year—was once again perfect when he needed to be.
Orb is a horse suited to make late runs from the outside (he also did it at the Florida Derby), but if Rosario began his push any sooner or any later, this race would have gone much differently.
Put it all together—a perfectly timed comeback from an outside post in less than ideal conditions—and there is undoubtedly no way Joel Rosario could have ridden a more flawlessly strategic race.
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