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Giacomo and Mike Smith with the Derby winner's roses.
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History was made at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, as the second-largest crowd in Derby history witnessed the second-longest shot ever win the 131st Run for the Roses. Giacomo, a 50-1 longshot, paid a whopping $102.60 to win before 156,435 sun-drenched fans under the Twin Spires. Only Donerail's $184.90 payoff in 1913 and the 163,628 that witnessed the centennial Derby of 1974 were greater. A full field of twenty went to post in this Grade 1, $2 million classic event with Wood Memorial winner Bellamy Road sent off as the 5-2 favorite over 9-2 second choice Afleet Alex.
As expected, 71-1 shot Spanish Chestnut and 59-1 shot Going Wild went to the front early, and over the lightning fast surface Spanish Chestnut rattled off the second fastest pace in Derby history. He went the quarter in 22.28, the half in 45.38, and 6 furlongs in 1:09.59 over the lightning-fast track while Going Wild stalked him in second. Although Spanish Chestnut's objective was to set the race up for 7-1 third choice Bandini, also owned by Michael Tabor, the strategy backfired as Bandini failed to fire and finished nineteenth. It also affected the favorite, as Bellamy Road tired at the top of the stretch and faded to seventh at the end. Turning for home, 7-1 shot High Fly who had stalked the pace in fourth down the backstretch inherited the lead and got a mile in 1:35.88 but could not sustain his forward momentum and finished tenth.
Afleet Alex (inside) leading in the stretch with Giacomo coming up on the outside. Closing Argument is between them.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 10 Giacomo Smith 102.60 45.80 19.80 18 Closing Argument Velasquez 70.00 24.80 12 Afleet Alex Rose 4.60 Winning Time: 2:02.75 $2 Exacta 10-18 9,814.80 $2 Trifecta 10-18-12 133,134.80 $1 Superfecta 10-18-12-17 864,253.20 $2 Oaks/Derby Double 595.20
Giacomo returns to parade for the fans in the grandstand. Winning owner Jerry Moss said, "We knew we had a good horse. John (trainer Shirreffs) kept saying he was doing really well. He had trouble in a bunch of races in California and he was waiting to give us a big one and he sure did. We're just thrilled and delighted, this is just one of the greatest thrills we could ever have."
Giacomo and jockey Mike Smith parade on the turf course with the Derby roses. Smith said, "He redeemed his father (Holy Bull). I knew the first time I got him when he was two. I had to back that up and he did it today, he made us proud. I had to do some maneuvering. I got carried out on the first turn, I was able to save a lot of ground down the backstretch. When I could angle him out he kept running them down, he can run all day. I'm so numb. I can't tell you how I feel. When I stood up at the finish, all my strength left my body. Never have I had a feeling like this. This is unreal. We've never had him rate like he did today. John (trainer Shirreffs) did a tremendous job"
The happy connections in the winner's circle with the trophy. Trainer John Sherreffs is in the cap holding the trophy, owner Jerry Moss is behind jockey Mike Smith with his wife to his right. Shirreffs said, "When he ran second to Declan's Moon and the way he loomed up there, I knew we had a horse of high caliber. I didn't see a lot of the race because I was on the ground floor. The fractions were fast, he was wide around the first turn. I didn't pick him up until the three-sixteenths pole. I saw the white shadow roll, and I thought we had a chance to hit the board. Then I said to myself, 'We might win it.'"
Second place finisher Closing Argument in the post parade. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez said, "My horse did run good. I had a lot of horse. I think my horse tried very hard. He's a very good horse. He was in perfect condition today. He ran a big race."
Third place finisher Afleet Alex in the post parade. Jockey Jeremy Rose said, "He tried his ass off, he really did. I was screaming and hollering for him. You can feel when a horse is giving everything he had. He just had nothing left. I think that is the first time that I have seen a horse outside me that I could not get by."
Fourth place finisher Don't Get Mad in the post parade. Jockey Tyler Baze said, "I had a perfect trip besides having to go wide around the three-eighths pole. There was so much traffic in front of me that I had to go. It was time to make a move and he wanted to do it. He got tired the last eighth, but he just ran last week. He ran a heck of a race and they better watch out next time, cause this horse is awesome."
Beaten favorite Bellamy Road who finished seventh. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "He ran well, and he seemed to handle the track well, but he just didn't have it today." Trainer Nick Zito, whose 5 horses all finished off the board, said, "I didn't feel good obviously. I thought I was in good shape, Jerry Bailey and Javy (Castellano) had their horses in good position. I was waiting for my other horses to close but obviously it wasn't our day. I knew there would be a hot pace but we were in the clear, and I was waiting for my closers but they never came. Great expectations bring great disappointments, that's the way it goes. I'm only human, it's going to be a bit of a setback but when you start thinking about what happens in life, it's not that bad."
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