Post-time favorite Orb, racing on a sloppy track, rallied through the stretch to win Saturday's $2 million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The 3-year-old colt, ridden by Joel Rosario, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.89.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, Orb assumed the lead with 100 yards to run and went on to post a 2 1/2-length victory over 34-1 longshot Golden Soul.
Getting up for third was Revolutionary, followed by Normandy Invasion, Mylute, Oxbow, Lines of Battle, Will Take Charge, Charming Kitten, Giant Finish, Overanalyze, Palace Malice, Java's War, Verrazano, Itsmyluckyday, Frac Daddy, Goldencents, Vyjack and Falling Sky.
Orb was the 5-1 favorite in the 19-horse field after opening as the 7-2 morning-line choice. Revolutionary went off as the 6-1 second pick, with Goldencents the 7-1 third choice. Verrazano, the 4-1 second pick in the program, was the fourth selection at 8-1.
Setting the pace was Palace Malice with Goldencents in second and Verrazano, one of five horses in the race trained by Todd Pletcher, running near the front. Orb was well back after a poor start.
Palace Malice, another Pletcher horse, had the lead when the field entered the far turn, with Verrazano in second as Normandy Invasion began to move from the outside.
Normandy Invasion, ridden by Javier Castellano, took the lead at the top of the stretch as Orb gained ground from the outside. Normandy Invasion had the lead nearing the furlong pole, but could not hold off a fast running Orb.
"Oh my God, it's awesome," Rosario said right after winning the Run for the Roses for the first time. It was second major stakes win for Rosario this year. On March 30, the jockey rode 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom to victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
The victory makes Orb the only 3-year-old eligible to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978. The Preakness Stakes at Pimlico will be held in two weeks, followed by the Belmont Stakes on June 8.
Saturday's win was worth $1.4 million and is the first Kentucky Derby victory for McGaughey and owners Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable. In 1989, McGaughey saddled the favorite Easy Goer, who finished second behind Sunday Silence.
Orb has won five straight starts, including the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth Stakes.
"I think the first three times we had problems with him around the gate," the Hall of Fame trainer McGaughey noted about Orb's improvement. "He just kind of lost his race ... even though the first time he ran a bang-up race, for all he went through. We took him to Florida this winter, we didn't think we'd be here. It wasn't what we were planning on. He just kept coming and kept coming, then after the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby, I would go up where he was and I couldn't believe what I was seeing, time and time again. And it worked out."
The colt has now earned more than $2.3 million with five wins in eight career starts.
Orb returned $12.80, $7.40 and $5.40. Golden Soul paid $38.60 and $19.40, and Revolutionary paid $5.40 to show.