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EP Taylor & Nearctic
Review: Crushing the Cup
War Emblem winner of the Kentucky Derby with Victor Espinoza up being led to the winner's circle by his owner Prince Ahmed bin Salman of the Thoroughbred Corp.
In the 128th running of the Kentucky Derby, Prince Ahmed Salman of the Thoroughbred Corporation beat Sheikh Mohammed to the Holy Grail when his recent purchase War Emblem captured the roses. With expected pacesetter and fellow Baffert trainer Danthebluegrassman scratched out of the race, jockey Victor Espinoza sent War Emblem to the front to set the pace. Setting easy fractions of 23.25, 47.04, 1:11.75, and 1:36.70, he was able to conserve energy and save ground the whole way around the track. Proud Citizen stalked him, always staying within two lengths of the leader. As the field straightened for home, Perfect Drift, who was making his bid for the front having settled in stalking position, had to alter his course at the 3/16 pole when he got behind War Emblem, lost momentum as a result, and came up empty. Midway down the stretch, War Emblem found another gear and drew off to win by four lengths over Proud Citizen in a time of 2:01.13 for the 1 1/4 mile classic. It was 3/4 lengths back to Perfect Drift. Very lukewarm (6-1) favorite Harlan's Holiday was bumped by Proud Citizen at the start, raced as far back as 11th early, and simply failed to fire, finishing seventh, while 7-1 second choice Medaglia d'Oro finished fourth. The foreign contingent all did poorly: Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Johannesburg was 8th, Essence of Dubai was 9th, and Castle Gandolfo was 12th.
Purse: $1,000,000 Distance: 1 1/4 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 War Emblem Espinoza 43.00 22.80 13.60 13 Proud Citizen Smith 24.60 13.40 3 Perfect Drift Delahoussaye 6.40
Results chart Race 9
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First time past the stands with War Emblem and Proud Citizen out front. Mike Smith on Proud Citizen said: "I tried to stay within striking distance of him. He just kicked away from us. I thought at one point that my horse would quit, but her just reached down and cut again. Hopefully we can turn the tables in the next one."
Prince Ahmed bin Salman leads War Emblem over to the winner's circle. He said: "Winning the Kentucky Derby ha always been my dream. I would like to thank Bob Baffert, he is a genius."
The connection and the trophies. Bob Baffert said: "We sort of came in here through the back door, but we are leaving through the front door. We're just glad we were able to purchase this horse and it is a great win for all of us. I told the prince I owe you a Derby after last year; he's got his Derby.
War Emblem in the post parade. Jockey Victor Espinoza said: "I feel great. I felt a lot of confidence. I had a dream that I would win today in this race and I just felt lucky this morning when I got up, that I had a really good chance to win this race."
Second place finisher Proud Citizen in the post parade. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said: "I couldn't be happier with the way this horse ran. Given the pace, he would have had to be a lot tighter to run down the winner."
Third place finisher Perfect Drift in the post parade. Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye said: "They were walking. I thought there would be five or six horses in front of me, but nobody was going with the leader. I was up front but I didn't want to be. I was just being dragged along with the race."
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