Horseracing

Blog: Orb wins the Kentucky Derby

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All those funny names, and it was the most — uh — well-rounded of all of them that pulled off the victory in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Orb — or "Bro", if you prefer reading backward, as we do in this case — outraced the other equines on a sloppy day at Churchill Downs, surging ahead of the pack on the home stretch. The video evidence is here:

So as the inevitable "Can he win the Triple Crown?" talk begins, what can we tell you about Orb?

His trainer is Claude "Shug" McGaughey, a Kentucky native who has had a long wait through a Hall of Fame career for a Kentucky Derby victory. Shug's only other Triple Crown race victory came in the 1989 Belmont Stakes with Easy Goer.

His jockey is Joel Rosario, who picked up the mount when jockey John Velazquez chose to ride Verrazano, who finished far back in the pack.

"(Orb) showed today he is the man," Rosario said. "I had a perfect trip. He was very calm and relaxed."

And no, a horse with a three-letter name winning the Derby is not unprecedented. Zev pulled it off in 1923.

For you betting types, Orb returned $12.80, $7.40 and $5.40. Long shot Golden Soul finished second, paying $38.60 to place and $19.40 to show. Revolutionary, ridden by that infamous Derby jockey Calvin Borel, finished third and returned $5.40.

The $2 exacta of Orb and Golden Soul returned a juicy $981.60.

Orb lost his first three starts, not inspiring Derby dreams.

"The first three times we had problems with him around the gate," McGaughey said. "We took him to Florida this winter, we didn't think he'd be here. After the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, I couldn't believe what I was seeing."

His fellow trainers were thrilled to see McGaughey gain his first Derby win.

Attendance at Churchill Downs was 151,616, the ninth-largest crowd ever, despite rainy conditions that left the track a muddy mess.

One of those who was happy to see Orb in the winner's circle was Robert Griffin III, quarterback of the Washington Redskins.

Nineteen horses attempted to win the 139th edition of this year's race. Black Onyx was scratched on Friday.

If Orb comes out of the Derby fit, he will head to the Preakness Stakes on May 18 at Pimlico in Maryland.

A victory there would give the 3-year-old a chance to head to the Belmont Stakes on June 8. There has not been a Triple Crown winner in 35 years. Affirmed was the last horse to capture all three races, and that was in 1978.

The Derby was run on sloppy tracks in 2009 and '10. The common element to both those races: Borel was the winning rider.

Borel stunned the world in 2009 aboard 50-1 shot Mine That Bird, a gelding who was driven to Kentucky from New Mexico by his trainer. He came back a year later and rode Super Saver, for trainer Todd Pletcher, to victory.

The weather didn't cooperate this year but that didn't prevent the usual styles from being showcased at Churchill Downs.

In fact, there was even a rainbow ... and it wasn't in the sky:

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