LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 5, 2013 – Remember two names: Orb, a horse, and “Shug” McGaughey, a trainer.
Next Sunday may be Mother’s Day, but this past Saturday was a day for the “mudders” of the equine world with a sloppy wet, muddy track at Churchill Downs, causing an unexpected situation for the 19 competing three-year-olds.
It all worked out in the end, as favorite Orb won handily, handing his trainer, Claude R. “Shug” McGaughey, III, his first Derby win in seven attempts. Hall of Famer McGaughey of Lexington, Ky. is well known and highly respected in racing circles, having saddled nine Breeders Cup winners, as well winning as other big races, but the Derby had always eluded him until yesterday.
Jockey Joel Rosario of Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, kept Orb back into the pack for a while, letting the front-runners cover themselves in mud and muck. Then when the time was right, he turned his horse loose to head for the front and won the race.
“I just let him be calm and relaxed,” he said, referring to the way in which Orb responded, as he moved to the front with about 200 yards to go. By that time the others – some of them rated higher than the winner – had spent themselves running so hard in the mud, and the victor was able to just fly by.
Golden Soul, ridden by Robby Albaroado, came in second. Revolutionary, ridden by favorite Calvin Borel, had stayed close to the rail as is his wont, but even he could not cover enough ground to outlast Orb, and came in third. Mylute ridden by Rosie Napravnik in search of her first Derby win, came in fifth, while Verrazano, another highly regarded colt, could only manage fourteenth.
The racing gods just did not favor the dreams of Kevin Krigger who wanted to be the first black jockey to win since 1902. Even though he was on board Goldencents, co-owned by Rick Pitino, he could only manage seventeenth. A comeback victory may have been the dream of long-time jockey Gary Stevens, but the former NBC color commentator came in sixth on Oxbow.
Payout on the top three was:
Orb 12.80 7.40 5.40
Golden Soul 38.60 19.40
It was a miserably rainy day, but as the sounds of the perennial favorite, Kentucky’s state song rang out, “The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home…,” the clouds seemed to part a little and the sun barely shone through. Jockeys rode with five and six pair of goggles, pulling down a dirty pair in favor of a clean one as each became covered in dirt.
Orb won the race by 2 1/2 lengths in a time of 2:02.89. McGaughey was properly appreciative and quietly overjoyed, saying that the Derby win “means everything to me. I’ve always dreamed of this day and it finally came.”
Orb acted as nonchalant after the race as only a thoroughbred could, having now won his four previous races, equinely unaware that the win was worth $1,414,800.00 which added to his previous career winnings and gave him a total of $2,335,850.00. Doubtless his share will include some fresh carrots and an extra bale of hay.
Even though security was enhanced as an sequel to the Boston Marathon bombing, the crowd of over 151,000 seemed to put up with any inconvenience, and the plethora of celebrities gave the regular folk much to look at. Robert Griffin III of the Redskins was there and very popular, along with Warren Moon, a former NFL quarterback and the usual round of Hollywood celebrities, such as Jane Seymour.
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