Orb rallied from the back of the field to give Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey his first Kentucky Derby triumph.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Orb captured the 139th running of the opening leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown yesterday, covering the 1 1/4 miles in 2 minutes, 2.89 seconds at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
The second event in the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, is set for Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on May 18. Affirmed was the last Triple Crown winner in 1978, sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Rosario was settled near the back of the 19-horse pack after leaving the gate on a sloppy track and was six horses wide at the second turn as Orb made a move on the frontrunners who were exhausted by the pace in the first half mile.
“I was really far back,” Rosario said. “I said hopefully he can go faster than that. I was saying maybe I was too far back, but it was so easy.”
The colt got his fifth straight victory by outrunning second-place longshot Golden Soul and third-place Revolutionary to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
“A perfect ride,” said Rosario, 25, who leads North American jockeys with wins this year and rode 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom to victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. “This is awesome to win the World Cup and Derby.”
The 3-year-old winner returned $12.80, $7.40 and $5.40 on a $2 bet. Golden Soul paid $38.60 and $19.40, and Revolutionary paid $5.40.
“It means everything to me,” said McGaughey, 62, who hadn’t entered a horse in the Derby since 2002. “I’m thrilled to death for (the owners), thrilled to death for the people who put so much time into this horse, and, of course, I’m thrilled to death for me.”
Jockey Rosie Napravnik, 25, who is second to Rosario in wins this year, was trying to become the first female rider to win the Derby, aboard Mylute, who came in fifth with odds of 15-1. Normandy Invasion was fourth at 9-1.
Kevin Krigger, 29, rode Goldencents to 17th place, failing to become the first black jockey to win the Derby since Jimmy Winkfield in 1902.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, 45, who had five horses running, is now 1-for-36 since he first entered the Derby in 2000. His only Derby win was in 2010 with Super Saver. His best finish this year was Revolutionary.