WinStar Farm's homebred SUPER SAVER (Maria's Mon) benefited from a classic Calvin Borel ride to give trainer Todd Pletcher his first Kentucky Derby (G1) win at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Saving ground along the rail all the way around, the bay colt ran the 1 1/4-mile classic over a sloppy, sealed track in 2:04 2/5.
"It never gets old," said an emotional Borel, who became the first jockey to win three Derbies in four years.
"It's a joy," Pletcher agreed. "People said we had one with our name written on it. I didn't take anything for granted. It feels awfully good."
On a rainy, dreary day, the sun broke through the clouds minutes before the Derby field took to the track, shining brightly off Super Saver's white WinStar silks. The bay colt broke well from his 4 post and Borel immediately steered him over to the rail as Conveyance (Indian Charlie) moved up to lead the massive field through splits of :22 3/5, :46 and 1:10 2/5. Sidney's Candy (Candy Ride [Arg]) was drafting off the pacesetter's flank and Line of David (Lion Heart) tracked in third.
Noble's Promise (Cuvee) moved up to take over third from Line of David, and was in the perfect spot to grab the lead from Conveyance as he began backing up. Posting the mile in 1:37 3/5, the bay wasn't allowed to hold the advantage for long, as Super Saver was moving up to his inside.
In a ride that paralleled last year's win aboard Mine That Bird (Birdstone) in the Derby, Borel kept Super Saver skimming the rail all the way around until nearing Conveyance. Angling slightly off the inside, Super Saver smoothly passed the early pacesetter rounding the turn and then headed right back toward the rail. The three-year-old maintained his momentum to pass Noble's Promise and then hold a closing Ice Box, giving his connections the historic win while 2 1/2 lengths clear on the wire.
"I had him where I wanted," Borel said. "I got him off the pace and he relaxed good. I learned a lot the last time I rode him (in the Arkansas Derby). The first time I rode him, I won on the lead, but in the last race, I took him back and learned a lot about him.
Sent off the 8-1 second choice in the full 20-horse field, Super Saver earned his first victory since taking the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) under the Twin Spires as a two-year-old. Borel was aboard for that ride as well, and this win rewarded supporters with payouts of $18, $8.80 and $6. Sent off at 11-1, Ice Box (Pulpit) rallied to take second over Paddy O'Prado (El Prado [Ire]), returning $11.20 and $8 while keying the $152.40 exacta. Paddy O'Prado was worth $7.40 at 12-1 and ended the $2,337.40 trifecta.
Make Music for Me (Bernstein), who just got into the Run for the Roses at the last minute, took fourth over Noble's Promise and completed the stellar $202,569.20 superfecta (4-2-10-9). Following the top five under the wire was an unlucky Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike), who was bumped and forced to check repeatedly as the 6-1 favorite.
Dublin (Afleet Alex), Stately Victor (Ghostzapper), Mission Impazible (Unbridled's Song), Devil May Care (Malibu Moon), American Lion (Tiznow), Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil), Discreetly Mine (Mineshaft), Dean's Kitten (Kitten's Joy), Conveyance, Homeboykris (Roman Ruler), Sidney's Candy, Line of David, Awesome Act (Awesome Again) and Backtalk (Smarty Jones) completed the order under the wire.
The first Kentucky Jockey Club winner to take the Derby since Cannonade in 1974, Super Saver's only other career victory came when he broke his maiden in the slop by seven lengths at Belmont Park last September. That came in his second lifetime start, and the bay colt would make his stakes bow a fourth-place run in the Champagne S. (G1), just two lengths behind winner Homeboykris.
Super Saver ended 2009 on a high note when winning the Kentucky Jockey Club and returned off a near four-month break to just miss by a half-length when third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3). The sophomore reunited with Borel to make his final Run for the for Roses prep in the Arkansas Derby (G1), where a neck was all that separated him and victor Line of David on the line. The winner's share of the $2,185,200 purse shot Super Saver's earnings to $1,826,432 and his mark now stands at 7-3-2-1.
The Kentucky-bred, whose stablemates Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway) and fellow WinStar homebred Rule (Roman Ruler) were withdrawn from Derby consideration earlier in the week, is out of the winning A.P. Indy mare Supercharger. The 15-year-old mare has since produced an unraced juvenile colt named Brethren (Distorted Humor), an unnamed Awesome Again yearling filly and a 2010 colt by Medaglia d'Oro.
This is a stellar black-type family as Supercharger is a full sister to Grade 2 scorers Daydreaming and Girolamo as well as a Grade 3 hero and Grade 1-placed Accelerator. She is also a full sister to the unraced She's a Winner, herself the dam of 2006 Haskell Invitational (G1) winner Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat), who ran second in that year's Kentucky Derby and Belmont S. (G1), and Grade 2 victor Lord of the Game (Saint Ballado).
Super Saver's second dam is Grade 3 winner Get Lucky (Mr. Prospector), a full sister to 1989 champion two-year-old colt and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) victor Rhythm as well as successful stakes-placed sire Not for Love. The trio's half-sister Oscillate (Seattle Slew) is the dam of another well-known sire, Group 2-placed listed winner Mutakddim (Seeking the Gold), and Grade 1 runner-up Smooth Charmer (Easy Goer).
Farther back, Super Saver counts as his fourth dam 1971 champion two-year-old filly Numbered Account (Buckpasser), who would go on in the breeding shed to produce his third dam, Grade 1 queen Dance Number (Northern Dancer), and multiple Grade 1-winning sire Private Account. Others of note in this line include Irish champion and top sire Woodman (Mr. Prospector) as well as Group 1 winner Assatis (Topsider).