The 134th Kentucky Derby goes into the history books as a study in contrasts -- the highest of highs in Big Brown's dominating victory and the lowest of lows in Eight Belles' fatal breakdown as she pulled up after finishing second.
However, if Big Brown continues to perform at the level he attained Saturday at Churchill Downs, his brilliance will be the more abiding memory. So complete was his mastery of the field that none of the 19 horses who trailed him across the finish line is expected to go on to the second jewel of the Triple Crown -- the May 17 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore.
From the winner's perspective, there's little to say about the running of the Derby. Jockey Kent Desormeaux picked up his third Derby win by getting Big Brown away cleanly from gate No. 20, confidently letting him run wide around the first turn in a clear, stalking position, then giving him the green light on the second turn. After taking a few strides to downshift, Big Brown accelerated away from the field and did the rest -- winning by 4 3/4 lengths.
After negotiating the first turn, Desormeaux said, Big Brown settled into a "very comfortable" pace, caught a breather and was ready when called on. At the top of the lane, the jockey said, "He started adding power to his stride. And he's got some power."
The Kentucky-bred son of Boundary became the first horse since the filly Regret in 1915 to win the Derby with only three previous races. And he became the first since Clyde Van Deusen in 1929 to win from the No. 20 gate.
Eight Belles, bidding to become just the fourth filly winner of the Derby, raced close to Big Brown most of the way, seemed beaten near the top of the stretch and then held on well to take second by 3 1/2 lengths over Denis of Cork. Tale of Ekati completed the $56,737.80 superfecta.
Eight Belles appeared to be running well as she crossed the finish line and galloped out normally until she was on the backstretch, at least a quarter mile after the finish. There, she collapsed with both front ankles broken. Treatment was impossible because of the extent of the injuries and she was euthanized on the track.
"She appeared to be galloping out fine," said Dr. Larry Bramlage, attending veterinarian. "I haven't seen this before."
None of the owners or trainers of the 18 surviving Derby also-rans indicated plans to try Big Brown again in the Preakness. Maryland Jockey Club spokesman Mike Gathagan indicated the rest of the Preakness field therefore will be made up of what is called in Preakness parlance "new shooters." He listed as likely contenders Behindatthebar, El Gato Malo, Kentucky Bear, Tres Borrachos, Giant Moon, Stevil, Yankee Victor and Harlem Rocker.
"I like our chances because we have the best horse," said Big Brown's trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., who was born in Hagerstown, Md., and attended Atholton High School in Howard County. "I am going to see a bunch of friends but I am going there with a horse that can win the race."
With Eight Belles reserved for her ill-fated run in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Larry Jones was left with Proud Spell as his sole Kentucky Oaks hope. That worked out as the Kentucky-bred daughter of Proud Citizen rebounded from a third-place finish in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland to win the big one by 5 lengths in the Churchill Downs slop. Little Belle was second and Pure Clan finished with a flourish to take third, just a head in front of Golden Doc A. Proud Spell, under Gabriel Saez, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:50.01. Proud Spell, who began her career last July at Delaware Park, ran second to Indian Blessing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall at Monmouth Park. Her only win in three previous starts this year was in the Fair Grounds Oaks two months ago, beating Indian Blessing. The filly was bred by Brereton C. Jones, former governor of Kentucky.
In other weekend racing:
Henrythenavigator and New Approach dueled to the wire in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in England. After settling near the rear of the field under jockey John Murtagh, Henrythenavigator moved up steadily and came to even terms with New Approach, the heavy favorite, in the final 100 yards. It was only in the final jumps that he gained the lead. Stubbs Art, at triple-digit odds, rallied gamely to finish third. Henrythenavigator, a U.S.-bred colt by Kingmambo, finished in 1:39.14 on a course rated "good." Aidan O'Brien trains for owner Susan Magnier.
On the Kentucky Derby Day undercard:
Einstein stalked the pace in the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, came three-wide to challenge for the lead on the turn and proved best in the stretch, winning by 1 length over Out of Control. Artiste Royale finished third. Einstein, a 6-year-old, Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck, ran the 1 1/8 miles on "good" turf in 1:50.5. Robby Albarado rode for trainer Helen Pitts. "The Arlington Million is the ultimate goal," Pitts said. But she added Einstein may get a rest, "whether it's one race or two races from now."
Intangaroo made a late run from the back of the field to upset the Humana Distaff, winning by a head over fellow longshot Baroness Thatcher. Hystericalady was third and the favorite, Sugar Swirl, settled for a fading fifth. Intangaroo, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Orientate, circled the field three-wide before finishing the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.03. Alonso Quinonez rode for trainer Gary Sherlock. "I was very patient," said Quinonez. "I knew I could be with the long stretch."
Elite Squadron, with John Velazquez up, led most of the way to a 4 1/2-lengths victory in the $250,000 Churchill Downs Stakes, finishing the 7 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:21.53. Noonmark rallied to take second, with Hewitts third. Elite Squadron is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Officer, trained by James Baker.
Game Face came from mid-pack with a strong stretch run to win the $150,000 La Troienne Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a neck over Keep the Peace. Tiz to Dream finished third. Game Face, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Menifee, ran the 7 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:28.44 with John Velazquez in the irons for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Bayou's Lassie, on the lead all the way, upset the $150,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, holding favorite Dreaming of Anna safe in the late going to score by 1 1/4 lengths. Ventura finished third. Bayou's Lassie, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred Outflanker mare, ran 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:37.7 with Edgar Prado up.
In Thursday's $100,000 Mamzelle Stakes for fillies and mares, Just for Keeps stalked the pace set by Cat On a Cloud, went by to the lead at mid-stretch and went on to win by 1/2 length. Cat On a Cloud held second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Taletobetold. Just for Keeps, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Broken Vow, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.09 seconds with Garrett Gomez up.
Also Thursday, Run Away and Hide did everything but that in the $150,000 Kentucky Stakes for 2-year-olds, taking charge in the stretch and winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Garden District. Dream of Kaylee finished third. Run Away and Hide, a Kentucky-bred colt by City Zip, zipped through 5 furlongs on a fast track in 57.56 seconds. Robby Albarado rode for trainer Ronny Werner.
Mr. Nightlinger bobbled at the start of Friday's $100,000 Aegon Turf Sprint but quickly recovered and led the rest of the way to a 1-length victory over Salute the Count. Atticus Kristy finished third. Mr. Nightlinger, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Indian Charlie, ran the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.18 seconds with Jamie Theriot up. Said Theriot, "It looks like we have found a niche with him now -- he's 2-for-2 going short on the turf."
Ginger Punch was a dominating winner in Friday's $300,000 Louisville Stakes, taking command after a half mile and drawing clear to score by 3 3/4 lengths over Leah's Secret. Lear's Princess finished third. Ginger Punch, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Awesome Again, finished the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.08. Rafael Bejarano applied the winning ride for trainer Bobby Frankel. "She ran her race. Everything worked out well. I don't know what's next. We'll just have to look," Frankel said.
Zee Zee made it look easy in Friday's $150,000 Edgewood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, setting a moderate pace, then winning off by 1 3/4 lengths over My Baby Baby. Magger Bags was third at long odds and the favorite, Grace and Power, was fourth. Zee Zee, a Florida-bred daughter of Exchange Rate out of the Dynaformer mare Emblem of Hope, ran the 1 1/16 miles on "good" turf in 1:44.73 for jockey Kent Desormeaux. Bill Mott trains. "She's a very nice filly," Mott said. "I don't know where we'll go with her next, but it definitely will be on turf."
Giant Gizmo surged to the lead six-wide on the turn for home in Friday's $150,000 Alysheba Stakes and drew clear to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Better Than Bonds was second and the favorite, Wanderin Boy, finished third. Chelokee broke down at the 3/16ths pole. Giant Gizmo, under Rafael Bejarano, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.96. "He didn't like getting mud in the face, so around the three-eighths I put him on the outside and he made a little move on the turn and he started running really good," Bejarano said.
Tizdejavu led from gate to wire in winning Friday's $150,000 Crown Royal American Turf for 3-year-olds, hanging on by a neck at the end. Sailor's Cap, the favorite, just missed and Nistle's Crunch was third. Tizdejavu, a Kentucky-bred colt by Tiznow, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a yielding turf course in 1:46.14 with Garrett Gomez up for trainer Greg Fox.
Zaftig posted a fat upset in Saturday's $200,000 Nassau County Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, drawing clear of her six rivals to win by 5 1/4 lengths over favorite Carolyn's Cat. J Z Warrior was third. Zaftig, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Gone West, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.74 with Jorge Chavez riding. "I knew the favorite was the only speed," Chavez said of his second winner on the afternoon. "I was hoping someone would go with her, and that's what happened. She kicked in really well at the end."
Northern Netti stalked the pace set by favorite Dance Gal Dance in Sunday's $100,000 Bouwerie Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies, then went by at the quarter pole and drew off easily to win by 9 1/4 lengths. Dance Gal Dance held second and My Dinah was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Northern Netti, a daughter of City Zip, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.24 with Eibar Coa riding.
El Roblar got the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Inglewood Handicap, then battled to the wire before prevailing by 1/2 length over Heroi Do Bafra. Uffizi was third. El Roblar, an 8-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of War Chant, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.35. Victor Espinoza rode for trainer Robert Mandella. "It worked out perfect," Espinoza said. "I really wasn't worried about the horse in front because I knew he was going fast. I was just focusing more on my horse. I wanted him to be comfortable. Turning for home, I didn't have to do much … just the last sixteenth I had to get into him a little bit to keep going."
Sunday, Tough Tiz's Sis dueled for the lead in the $100,000 Hawthorne Handicap for fillies and mares, put in her bid turning into the stretch and held on to beat the onrushing Santa Teresita by 3/4 length. Dawn After Dawn finished third. Tough Tiz's Sis, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Tiznow, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.84 with Aaron Gryder in the irons. "She ran like we hoped for her to run and that's to win," said winning trainer Bob Baffert. "She likes this track. She likes Hollywood and she likes synthetics. Her breeding says synthetics."
Dreaming of Liz led throughout the $50,000 Double Delta Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Arlington's opening day, winning by 1 length over the favorite, Vancy Pants. Tight Precision finished third. Dreaming of Liz, a Kentucky-bred daughter of El Prado, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.77 for jockey Earlie Fires. She is owned by Frank Calabrese and trained by Wayne Catalano, as is Dreaming of Anna, who ran second in Saturday's $150,000 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile.
Lord Carmen had to circle the field heading for home in Saturday's $100,000 James B. Tafel Illinois Owners Stakes, then drew clear in the final furlong to win by 2 lengths over even-money favorite Fort Prado. Rey Del Sol finished third. Lord Carmen, a 7-year-old, Ontario-bred son of Ordway, ran the 1 1/16 miles of soft turf in 1:50.76. The only starter owned by the race's namesake, Rector, ran evenly to finish eighth of nine.
Coragil Cat trailed early in Saturday's $50,000 Timeless Native Stakes, had some traffic issues on the turn but finally got room and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Throng. Cowtown Cat, the even-money favorite, led the way and then held on for third. Coragil Cat, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Forest Wildcat, ran the 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:33.55 under Diego Sanchez. The time was a record for Arlington's new synthetic surface, which played fast all weekend.
Not Bourbon stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Queenston Stakes for 3-year-olds, surged to the lead at the top of the stretch and went on to win by 5 lengths over the pace-setting favorite, Stuck in Traffic. Shadowless was 3 lengths farther back in third. Not Bourbon, an Ontario-bred colt by Not Impossible out of the Storm Boot mare Bourbon Belle, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.86 with Jono Jones up for trainer Roger Attfield. "First, I thought he (Stuck in Traffic) was a little far ahead," said Jones. "When I made my move, I got to him pretty quick and that was that."
Tampa Bay Downs
Revved Up got revved up in the stretch run in Saturday's $75,000
Chris Thomas Turf Classic, angled out and ran past the leaders to win by 2 lengths. Victory Alleged and I'm Only Laughing also were running late to take second and third. Revved Up, a 10-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Sultry Song, ran the "about" 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.48 for jockey Daniel Centeno.
Cattleman Prospect rallied to the lead at the sixteenth pole in Saturday's $75,000 Jack Cole Handicap for New Mexico-breds and drew clear, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Ty's Pache. Captain Cooper was third and the favorite, Midnite Prospector, finished fourth. Cattleman Prospect, a 7-year-old Prospector Jones gelding, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.07 with Alejandro Medellin up.
Bettin On M J rushed out to the lead in Saturday's $75,000 Panhandle Handicap and held the advantage to the wire, scoring by 3 lengths over Bernie Blue. Head Master D was third. Bettin on M J, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Quaker Ridge, got the 5 furlongs on a sloppy track in 57.8 seconds with Gerald Almodovar riding.
Mighty Bodacious galloped along in third place through the first several turns of Sunday's $75,000 Hasta La Vista Handicap, challenged for the lead three-wide heading into the final stretch run and won off by 3 3/4 lengths over Cleard for Action. Cleard for Action, in turn, was 3/4 lengths ahead of Chestertown Slew. Mighty Bodacious ran the 1 7/8 miles in 3:11.2 under Ry Eiklebery. The winner is a 7-year-old, Idaho-bred son of Silent Generation.
Nationhood won a three-way dash to the wire in Sunday's $50,000 Seattle Handicap, scoring by a neck over Chhaya Dance. Bound to Be M V P finished third. Nationhood, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Cherokee Run, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.4 with Ricky Frazier up.
Calder Race Course
Successful Love shook loose from the field in the stretch run of Saturday's $36,000 (reduced from the original $50,000 by a dispute between the track and horsemen) Naked Greed Stakes for 3-year-olds and won by 7 lengths over Brooks 'n Down. Commander Bay was third. Successful Love, a Florida-bred Successful Appeal colt, got the 6 furlongs in 1:11.88 under Daniel Coa.
Freedom Afleet led all the way to a 2 1/4-lengths victory over Banga Ridge in Saturday's $36,000 Snurb Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Orinoquia was third. Freedom Afleet, a Florida-bred daughter of Northern Afleet, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.26 for Herb McCauley.
Fearless Eagle came from last of five to win by 1 length in the $36,000 Jackie Wackie Stakes. Mysterious Peintre also made a late run to finish second and favorite Croton Road faded to get home third. Fearless Eagle, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred colt by Invisible Ink, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.07 for jockey Manuel Aguilar.
In Sunday's $36,000 Sumter Stakes, Imawildandcrazyguy rallied nicely to win by 1/2 length over Fineallymadeit. Notgonnagetemtoday completed a "hate those run-together names" trifecta. Imawildandcrazyguy, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Wild Event, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.99 with Manoel Cruz in the irons.
Magnus One led most of the way in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Express Stakes, then held on gamely at the end to win by 1/2 length over odds-on favorite Biglie Smallworld. Rodeo's Castle finished third. Magnus One, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Is It True, ran the 6 furlongs on the fast Iowa oval's main track in 1:10.07 with Israel Ocampo in the irons.
Sole of the City took the lead on the turn in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Rose Stakes for fillies and mares and wasn't seriously challenged, rolling home first, 3 1/2 lengths to the good of Silent Street. On Safari finished third. Sole of the City, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Salt Lake, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.51 with Inez Karlsson aboard.
Tylus rallied from a pace-stalking trip to win Saturday's $50,000 Shot of Gold Stakes by a nose over Prospective Kiss. Seneca Summer was just another neck back in third. Tylus, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Tale of the Cat, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.39 with Paul Nolan in the irons.
John Charles dueled for the lead early in Saturday's $60,000 Need For Speed Stakes, took the advantage in the stretch and went on to win by 1 length over the favorite, Brother Bean. Toolengthsoflite ran third. John Charles is a 4-year-old, Louisiana-bred gelding by Belek. Gerard Melancon had the mount.
Cash's Girl raced behind the pace in Saturday's $55,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes for fillies and mares, moved to the leaders on the turn and won a long stretch battle, finishing first by 3/4 length over Akronism. Clay's Angel finished third. Cash's Girl, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Northern Afleet, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.85 with Pablo Morales in the irons.
Will Rogers Downs
Sumfun stalked the pace set by Fearless Anthony in Saturday's $50,000 Route 66 Stakes for colts and geldings, went up to challenge along the rail and just got up in time to win by 1/2 length. Distinguish was third, a head farther back. Sumfun, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Menifee gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.26 with Curtis Kimes in the irons.
Stormin Quality got to the lead at the top of the lane in Saturday's $50,000 Wilma Mankiller Stakes for fillies and mares, then was all out in the final yards to win by 1/2 length over Sweet Ambition. Reel Chrome finished third. Stormin Quality, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Stormin Fever, got the 6 furlongs in 1:09.25, giving Kimes the stakes double. The race is named for the former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
Dancing Allstar, the odds-on favorite, led all the way to a 5 1/2-lengths victory in Sunday's $50,000 Mount Royal Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. Littlemiss Allison pressed the pace but faded and held on for second. Bears Artist was third and Spicy Candy completed the order of finish. Dancing Allstar, a British Columbia-bred daughter of Millennium Allstar, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.2 under Quincy Welch.