It was another historic day for the 141st Kentucky Derby, and after all the bets were placed and the mint juleps were consumed, another horse was crowned the champion. Coming in first place was American Pharoah, one of the most talked-about horses in racing leading up to the Derby, and the horse certainly lived up to expectations. For anyone who missed out on the time-honored tradition, here are some 2015 Kentucky Derby highlights, as well as what’s in store for the rest of the year in the world of horse racing:
A new champion crowned
Before winning the Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah was considered one of the stronger horses in the field, with odds listed at 5-2 before receiving final odds as a 2.9-1 favorite. However, American Pharoah certainly wasn’t the only coveted horse participating in the race. Many experts considered this year’s field to be one of the most competitive of all time, making it hard to predict a clear favorite. Trainer Bob Baffert, who trained American Pharoah, also was the official trainer for Dortmund, another horse who came into the race predicted as a potential winner. Dortmund wound up placing third, just behind Firing Line, a horse that started the morning at 12-1 odds.
American Pharoah won the race by one length, with a time of 2:03:02. For Baffert, it was the fourth time he had trained a horse that won the Derby, and his first win since 2002, when he trained War Emblem to a No. 1 placing. American Pharaoh has earned $1,240,000 in stake winnings, with Firing Line taking home $400,000 and Dortmund receiving $200,000. During the race, it appeared as if Dortmund was gaining the most momentum, as the horse shot out of the gate ahead of the pack. Dortmund and Firing Line continued to trade off first place, until Dortmund secured inside position and looked like the potential frontrunner. But American Pharoah remained right behind Dortmund for the majority of the race, until finally pulling ahead during the homestretch.
The road to the Derby
Before being crowned winner, American Pharoah had enjoyed success in the year leading up to the event. Ever since the horse’s name was incorrectly submitted to The Jockey Club, the animal has competed at a high level, despite any grammatical errors. While his racing debut on Aug. 9, 2014, resulted in a fifth-place finish, American Pharoah has gone on to win every event it has competed in, and was awarded with the title of American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse for 2014.
In its 3-year-old season, American Pharoah continued its hot streak, starting the year with wins at the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby. American Pharoah is ridden by legendary jockey Victor Espinoza, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner who previously won last year’s event with California Chrome and back in 2002 with War Emblem. Since its racing debut, American Pharoah is earned a total of just under $3 million.
The quest for the Triple Crown
In the world of horse racing, trainers, jockeys and owners who collaborate for a Kentucky Derby win must savor it quickly. The quest for the coveted Triple Crown title picks up right where it leaves off at the Derby, with the Preakness Stakes already coming up on May 16 and the Belmont Stakes taking place on June 6. No horse has won all three of these prestigious horse racing events since 1978, when Affirmed became the 11th horse to earn such an honor. The competition will only get fiercer for American Pharoah in each race, as a number of trainers are eager to etch their name into the horse racing history books.
Many are considering Baffert’s trained horse Dortmund as a favorite to take top prize at the Preakness, while other experts are intrigued by the potential of Carpe Diem, a horse that won the 2015 Blue Grass Stakes. Carpe Diem is trained by Todd Pletcher, another well-respected trainer who had three horses competing in this year’s Kentucky Derby, with another being scratched from an injury just before the race started. Regardless of the outcomes, horse racing fans should brace themselves for what could be one of the most memorable seasons of all time. Every year, most of the horses in the Kentucky Derby and the other Triple Crown races benefit from a variety of Finish Line products.