The fastest two minutes in sports came and went on Saturday, with American Pharoah taking the roses at the 2015 Kentucky Derby. This year's field, though it got smaller as the week went on with three horses scratched, was one of the deepest in a long time, and the race lived up to the hype.
To the victor goes the spoils. Zayat Stables is smiling wide because American Pharoah's victory means a guaranteed purse of $1.24 million, per TheTripleCrown.com.
As far as total purse payout for the top five finishers, Robert Raiola of OConnor Davies tweeted out the information:
Here's the prize payout following the run at Churchill Downs for the top three finishers:
|2015 Kentucky Derby Payout|
|Source: NBC Sports|
|2015 Kentucky Derby Order of Finsih|
|5||Danzig Moon||6 1/2|
|7||Keen Ice||8 3/4|
|13||Mr. Z||15 1/2|
|14||Ocho Ocho Ocho||15 1/2|
|15||Far Right||15 3/4|
|16||War Story||19 1/4|
|Source: NBC Sports|
There was an air at Churchill Downs not often felt. Even with the absence of horses like Stanford, El Kabeir and International Star, the 18 horses that remained in the field gave this race a unique feel. It was put together the way a great sports team should be, with star power at the top and depth all the way down the line.
Fans could tell this was a special day, as the Kentucky Derby official Twitter account noted a record-breaking crowd in attendance:
The crowd at Churchill Downs and watching on television got a thrilling race. Dortmund led most of the race but faded down the stretch. American Pharoah eventually passed him and battling Firing Line before pulling away at the end.
Yet the win was preordained on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon earlier in the week by puppies, even though they couldn't quite get the place and show correct:
When I won with Silver Charm in 1997, that was a great field. This looks like the deepest field since then. It’s like the NCAA tournament, where every region has sent its best, and they haven’t really faced each other. And until you see them out there together, you don’t know whether Duke or Wisconsin or Kentucky is really the best team.
The NCAA tournament analogy is fantastic, though the difference is that fans got to see the horse-racing equivalent of Kentucky, Duke and Wisconsin on the same track at the same time. Basketball rules tend to frown on three teams playing one another at the same time.
In the case of the Kentucky Derby, the roles of Kentucky, Duke and Wisconsin were played by American Pharoah, Dortmund and Carpe Diem. Those three were on the board as the top three favorites, via Odds Shark.
Unlike the NCAA tournament, in which Kentucky was the favorite before losing in the Final Four, American Pharoah had no problems taking care of business. Jockey Victor Espinoza reveled in the win, according to John Chandler of NBC New York:
Espinoza did his job, getting American Pharoah out of a less-than-ideal starting gate (No. 17) cleanly and having him in the top three for most of the run. It wasn't until the final stretch that he made the push to get his horse over the hump.
Per NBC Sports, Espinoza now has three career wins at the Kentucky Derby. (It's his second straight after riding California Chrome last year):
Owner Ahmed Zayat was particularly ecstatic about watching American Pharoah capture the 52-year-old his first Kentucky Derby win, via America's Best Racing Live:
American Pharoah's win from Gate 17 was also historic because no horse had ever come from that starting spot to capture the roses, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Now that American Pharoah has taken care of business at the Kentucky Derby, all the focus will shift to Pimlico and the Preakness Stakes in two weeks. He's won each of his last four races and shows no signs of slowing down.
Based on this win, American Pharoah will enter the Preakness as an overwhelming betting favorite. Espinoza is no stranger to managing a horse with big expectations, based on how he handled California Chrome last year.
The pressure will be on Espinoza once again as he rides American Pharoah in an effort to end the 37-year drought without a Triple Crown winner.