By Kevin Martin
The post-time favorite American Pharoah won the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville on Saturday beating one of the best fields to run for the roses in many years. After breaking from an outside post position, the eventual winner eased into a perfect spot behind front-runners Dortmund and Firing Line.
American Pharoah raced in third place and three wide around both turns as Dortmund carved reasonable fractions for the first three-quarters of a mile. As American Pharoah accelerated coming out of the final turn, he was carried wide by Firing Line.
When they straightened into the stretch, Dortmund dropped to third as American Pharoah and Firing Line ran neck and neck as they approached the finish. Firing Line eventually gave way and American Pharoah powered home to a one length victory.Dortmund hung on gamely for third over a fast closing Frosted who finished fourth.
American Pharoah’s trainer Bob Baffert, who also trained third place finisher Dortmund, said, “I felt really confident going in.”
American Pharoah is Baffert’s fourth Kentucky Derby win, coming over a decade after he won his third with Real Quiet in 2002. It was the first Kentucky Derby win for owner Ahmed Zayat. In his ten years as thoroughbred owner, he has finished second three times.
Two of his three second place finishes came with horses trained by Bob Baffert. One of those second place finishers, Pioneerof the Nile is the sire of American Pharoah.
Jockey Victor Espinoza rode his second straight Derby winner after winning last year aboard California Chrome. Espinoza is just the sixth jockey to win back to back editions in the long history of the famous race.
He called American Pharoah an “unbelievable horse” and that he knew he was a “special horse” the first time he rode him. American Pharoah has won five straight races with Espinoza in the saddle.
American Pharoah entered the race following two dominating performances at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Kentucky Derby gives him five wins from six career starts and pushes his career earnings over 2.6 million dollars.
He will ship to Baltimore for the Preakness and attempt to become the 14th Derby winner to win the Preakness since the last Triple Crown winner in 1978.
Churchill Downs announced an attendance of 170,513, the largest in Kentucky Derby history.
For a full rundown of betting results, check out “What were those 2015 Kentucky Derby payouts?” at Hello Racing Fans.