Super Saver won the 136th Kentucky Derby, giving jockey Calvin Borel a record third victory in four years and trainer Todd Pletcher his first after 24 failures in the top U.S. thoroughbred race.
Borel rode a nearly identical trip to the one that gave him a victory last year on the 50-1 Mine That Bird as he hugged the rail yesterday and passed only one horse on his way to the win at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Super Saver won by 2 ½ lengths.
Pletcher was 0-24 before his first victory in the Derby, which starts the Triple Crown series. Pletcher, who had four entries in this year’s Derby, had been forced to pull the early favorite, Eskendereya, owned by Ahmed Zayat, because of a leg injury.
Super Saver, the second favorite at 8-1, paid $18 to win, $8.80 to place and $6 to show on a $2 bet. Ice Box was second to return $11.20 and $8, and Paddy O’Prado was third to pay $7.40.
Wagering from Churchill Downs and off-track sites was $112.7 million, a 7.8 percent increase from the $104.6 million in 2009. The total handle doesn’t include the pool wagering in international markets such as Hong Kong, which simulcast the Derby for the first time. Attendance at the track was 155,804.
Borel, who also was aboard Derby winner Street Sense in 2007, covered the 1¼ miles in 2 minutes, 4.45 seconds in the field of 20 horses over a sloppy track after a day of rain. He is the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derby victories in four years.
“I went around one, got through between them and then I knew my colt would come home,” Borel said on a televised interview.
Pletcher said Borel “ran a beautiful race” and was confident when the field was an eighth of a mile from the finish.
“He was traveling so well, it looked like we would get there,” Pletcher said in an interview on General Electric Co.’s NBC.
Ice Box was second, a neck ahead of Paddy O’Prado.
The Derby winner earned more than $1.4 million.
“This is why you do this game,” said Bill Casner, chairman of Winstar Farm, which owns Super Saver. “It’s absolutely surreal; an out-of-body experience. You always dream about winning the Derby.”
The favorite, Lookin At Lucky, was never a factor in the race. The three-year-old colt got crowded as he emerged from his post position along the rail and finished sixth. Going off at 6- 1, Lookin At Lucky tied the odds for highest favorite, Harlan’s Holiday, who crossed the finish line in seventh place in 2002.
Homeboykris, partly owned by Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, came in 16th, while Sidney’s Candy, named after the husband of weight-loss entrepreneur Jenny Craig, was 17th. Backtalk, the last horse to gain entry to the Derby, was 20th.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at email@example.com