While it is surely fitting that the Road to the Kentucky Derby – the points-based Derby qualifying system introduced a year ago – would both begin and end at Churchill Downs, it required some heavy lifting by Churchill Downs to make it happen.
Churchill Downs will open the doors on its September meet Friday, and the stakes action at the Louisville, Kentucky, venue will get underway Saturday night as four black-type contests, including three graded, highlight the "Downs After Dark" program.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, Aug. 9, 2013) – Churchill Downs Racetrack officials announced Thursday that 34 races will be included in the 2013-14 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, including 16 significant events that comprise the “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” over the 10 weeks that precede the first Saturday in May.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb was heavily favored to win Saturday's $1 million Preakness at Pimlico, middle jewel of the Triple Crown, but at the conclusion of the 1 3/16-mile classic it was Oxbow, another colt with legendary connections, who ended Orb's quest to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
If the Kentucky Derby was a coming-out party for Orb, the fabulously talented winner of five consecutive races, it was also an unveiling for his rider, Joel Rosario, who in the space of just a few months has come to be recognized as the best jockey in North America.
The Kentucky Derby is the great equalizer. Sometimes the little guy wins – think Funny Cide or Mine That Bird – and sometimes the big guys get the prize. On Saturday at rainy Churchill Downs, a burgeoning star named Orb, owned by a pair of the sport's most prominent horsemen, handled by a Hall of Fame trainer, and ridden by the nation's leading jockey, splashed to a resounding and popular Derby victory.
“Sometimes I pinch myself and say, ‘Why does this happen to me?’ ” said McGaughey, noting how many talented horsemen never had the same opportunities that he has had. “When I got to really rolling, I remember many a day after we’d won a big race in New York, I’d be leaving and I’d think, ‘How lucky am I? Why is this happening to me?’ ”
Trained by Shug McGaughey and ridden by Joel Rosario, Orb covered the mile and a quarter on a sloppy main track in 2:02.89. It was the first Kentucky Derby victory for McGaughey and Rosario.
The victory was worth $1,414,800 and improved Orb’s career earnings to $2,335,850 with a record of 8-5-0-1.
Orb is a Kentucky-bred son of Malibu Moon out of the Unbridled mare Lady Liberty.
Palace Malice led the field of 19 through uncontested fractions of :22.57, :45.33 and 1:09.80 as Rosario kept Orb toward the back of the pack.
Among the more than 151,000 assembled today at Churchill Downs were some old friends of the Kentucky Derby – a mutuel clerk who's been punching tickets for half a century, an acclaimed photographer who's been a fixture since Bold Forbes upset Honest Pleasure 37 years ago, and an elevator operator who in her nine years here has made a legion of friends to last a lifetime.
Trained by Charlie LoPresti and ridden by Jose Lezcano, Wise Dan covered the 1 1/8 miles on a Matt Winn Turf Course labeled as yielding in 1:51.84.
The victory was worth $331,993 and boosted Wise Dan's earnings to $4,059,631 with a record of 22-15-1-0. Wise Dan's past five victories have come in Grade I races.
Wise Dan is a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Wiseman's Ferry out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle.
Trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, Delaunay covered the seven furlongs on the sloppy main track in 1:22.35.
The victory, the sixth in a row for Delaunay, was worth $264,031 and improved his earnings to $803,486 with a record of 39-14-8-3. It was the first graded stakes victory for Delaunay.
Trained by Wayne Catalano and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Stephanie’s Kitten covered the mile on a Matt Winn Turf Course labeled as yielding in 1:37.94.
The victory was worth $173,654 and increased Stephanie’s Kitten’s earnings to $1,280,403 with a record of 11-6-0-3 that includes a victory in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII) here.
Stephanie’s Kitten is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Kitten’s Joy out of the Catienus mare Unfold the Rose.
Forget baseball for a minute; on the first Saturday in May, betting on the Kentucky Derby is the national – and international – pastime.
Last year, more than $187 million was wagered on the Derby, and only about 13 percent of that was generated by the 165,307 fans who shoe-horned into Churchill Downs to see I'll Have Another charge to an upset victory. The remaining $163.2 million was bet off-track.
Trained by Ralph Nicks and ridden by Edgar Prado, Aubby K covered the seven furlongs on a main track labeled as sloppy in 1:22.93.
The victory was worth $205,701 and improved Aubby K’s earnings to $419,164 with a record of 8-4-0-1. It was the second graded-stakes victory of 2013 for Aubby K, who won the Inside Information (GII) in her first start of the year at Gulfstream Park.
Aubby K is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of the Capote mare Lilly Capote.
Stud Sampaio’s Berlino Di Tiger (BRZ) held off a late charge from 2009 race winner Chamberlain Bridge by a nose to win the 19th running of the $138,250 Twin Spires Turf Sprint presented by RAM (Grade III), the first of six graded stakes on the Kentucky Derby Day program at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Eduardo Caramori and ridden by Leandro Goncalves, Berlino Di Tiger covered the five furlongs on the “good” Matt Winn Turf Course in :57.01.
The victory was worth $83,144 and improved Berlino Di Tiger’s earnings to $212,212 with a record of 12-8-0-2.
PRINCESS OF SYLMAR / UNLIMITED BUDGET / DREAMING OF JULIA / SILSITA – The report on the four Kentucky Oaks (GI) fillies out of the Todd Pletcher barn was all positive Saturday morning following their major impact on the rich 3-year-old filly classic.
Princess of Sylmar (the winner), Unlimited Budget (third), Dreaming of Julia (fourth) and Silsita (10th) “came out of the race well,” Pletcher said. “They all pulled up in good order.”
It's almost incomprehensible that a horse fresh from a dominating victory in the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai would be viewed as a hopeless long shot in the Kentucky Derby, but that apparently will be the case with Lines of Battle, who was 34-1 in Derby advance wagering Saturday morning.
Call Rosie Napravnik what you will – a trail blazer, a pioneer, a woman of extraordinary talents – but first there's this: The reason Napravnik is such a compelling story in the run-up to the Kentucky Derby has little to do with her gender and everything to do with the fact she is one of the world's best jockeys.
Friday’s attendance was surpassed only by the 116,046 that attended in 2010.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Mike Smith, Princess of Sylmar covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:49.17. It was the first Oaks victory for Smith and the third for Pletcher, who won the 2004 running with Ashado and in 2007 with Rags to Riches.