For an unprecedented third time in four years, jockey Calvin Borel rode the rail at Churchill Downs to win the Grade 1 $2,000,000 Kentucky Derby. He guided Super Saver to a two-and-a-half length victory over a muddy track, giving trainer Todd Pletcher the first Derby victory of his career.
“I’ve been very blessed. I’ve had horses at the right time,” Borel said immediately after the race on NBC. “Last race, I finally got him off the pace and he relaxed good so I knew I could take him back a little bit. You know what? I’m going to win the Triple Crown this year!”
Even with the defection of Eskendereya, who would have been favored but was scratched due to injury six days ago, Pletcher still had four starters in the race. In 2007, he saddled five horses in the Derby with none finishing higher than sixth. This year, he was finally able to get the proverbial monkey off his back by winning the world’s most famous horse race.
“It’s joy. I didn’t take anything for granted, but it feels awfully good,” said the Eclipse Award-winning trainer, who had been 0-for-24 with his Derby starters. “We’re just fortunate that we had some really nice three-year olds. We’ll always think what if with the other horse, but we really love this.”
Borel exudes class with everyone he comes in contact with; addressing people as ‘Sir’ and ‘Maam,’ but this kind of good fortune is truly remarkable. The secret to his success is simple.
“Shortest way around, just like my brother taught me,” said Borel, or Bo-Rail as his endearing fans refer to him.
Super Saver is owned by WinStar Farm, an operation that is widely regarded in the sport of horse racing as one of the most respected breeding and racing operations. After having four potential candidates with the Derby just over a week away, they were left with just Super Saver and American Lion once entries were taken.
“This is why you do this business. Just an absolutely surreal, unbelievable out of body experience,” said WinStar’s Bill Casner. “To really win the Kentucky Derby is just beyond dreams.”
Glen Fullerton, a salesman from Texas, also had an experience beyond dreams, turning his $100,000 to win on Super Saver in the Dream Bet contest into a cool $900,000.
For Lookin at Lucky, it was yet another trip that could be described as being the exact opposite of his name. After the highest priced post-time favorite in the history of the race went off at 6-to-1 breaking from the rail, he was immediately bumped and shuffled back towards the rear of the field. He came running late, weaving in and out of traffic, but had too much to do and ended up finishing sixth.
Flying from the back of the pack to finish second was Ice Box, who went off at 11-to-1. Behind him in the mile-and-a-quarter race were Paddy O’Prado, Make Music for Me, and Noble’s Promise.
After rain, wind and a dark overcast sky lingered for the majority of the day; just as the 20 horses stepped on the track for the post parade, the sun came out to the delight of the announced crowd of 155,804.
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