LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Orb was so far behind a wall of horses at the Kentucky Derby that even his jockey wasn’t sure he could master the muddy track and make a run for the roses.
“I was really far back,” Joel 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 bay colt made it look that way Saturday, splashing through the slop to win the Derby by 2 1-2 lengths and giving Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey his first victory in the 3-year-old classic.
Long shot Golden Soul was second with Revolutionary third while Normandy Invasion faded to fourth.
Orb, the 5-1 favorite, broke from the No. 16 post and bided his time near the back of the pack early while Palace Malice set a blistering pace in the muck.
Orb was still idling in 16th place a half-mile into the race. On the turn for home, Rosario moved him past 11 horses into striking position in the middle of the track. With a quarter of a mile to go, Orb began picking off the leaders. The only question left was whether he could sustain his momentum on a surface that resembled creamy peanut butter.
“He was very relaxed, it’s exactly what I wanted,” Rosario said.
When the field turned for home on the cool, overcast afternoon at Churchill Downs, Normandy Invasion had the lead. But Orb was gearing up and prevailed in the deep stretch, carrying Rosario to his first Derby win.
“Perfect trip. I stayed on the outside I don’t want to be too wide on the first turn. I was hoping somebody in the middle (of the race) didn’t push me wide,” he said.
Orb ran the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.89
Orb paid $12.80, $7.40 and $5.40. Golden Soul, a 34-1 shot, returned $38.60 and $19.40 while Revolutionary paid $5.40 to show.