Let’s take a closer look at how each of the 20 runners performed in this year’s Kentucky Derby:
1st: #5 Always Dreaming – The fear of him being a little too keyed up coming into the race ended up not being a worry at all. He worked out the perfect trip while stalking the pace setter, State of Honor. Like many Kentucky Derby winners, he sat in a perfect stalking position throughout the race before making his move at the top of the stretch. From that point on, there was no catching him, putting the field away in the stretch. He’s on to Baltimore with a big shot.
2nd: #1 Lookin At Lee – He had an incredible trip from the 1 hole and a fantastic ride as well. He skimmed the rail the entire way around the track, and off the far turn, I had visions of Mine that Bird because he was picking off horses left and right. He flew into the second position with time left to pass Always Dreaming, but he just couldn’t make up any ground in the last 100 yards. That was a fantastic race from this horse.
3rd: #11 Battle of Midway – He hung close to the pace the entire way and kept grinding it out. He was never a threat to pass Always Dreaming, but he did a great job holding off everyone else aside from the railing-skimming Lookin At Lee. Many felt going into the race that Lookin At Lee was a great underneath play, but Battle of Midway not as much, so it could be said that he was the big surprise of this Derby.
4th: #14 Classic Empire – He might have been the second-best horse in the race, but he experienced all kinds of trouble from start to finish. A poor beginning caused him to be farther back than normal, and then he floated out very wide while making his run down the stretch. He nearly got up for third, but with his trip, he couldn’t make up enough ground. He’s one to watch for if he runs in the Preakness.
5th: #19 Practical Joke – It was an admirable race for a horse that will be a beast once they shorten him up. He looked like he has all year while going longer – he doesn’t have the same turn of foot around two turns. He was trying all the way up to the very end, though, which shows the class that this horse possesses.
6th: #16 Tapwrit – He had a trip similar to what most closers get in this race. Tucked in between many horses early, he swung out to make one run down the lane, passing several horses but only managing sixth. I felt that he bounced back from his non-effort in the Blue Grass Stakes.
7th: #10 Gunnevera – Here’s another horse that got the normal closer trip in the Derby. He had a little trouble at the start, was taken way back early, and then had to make a very wide move on the turn while in traffic. It’s very hard for horses with his style to get into contention in a race like this one.
8th: #15 McCraken – He’s yet another horse who had early trouble and had to be taken back in order to try and make a run. Unfortunately, he was parked four wide for most of the race before trying to come with a little bit of a run and he came up empty.
9th: #18 Gormley – He started to make a move when turning for home, so I thought that he might be ready to contend for a spot in the top five. However, he tired down the stretch and faded to ninth. He outran my expectation for him, though, and getting into that kind of position proved that he has class.
10th: #17 Irish War Cry – Without a doubt, he was the most disappointing horse in this race. Turning for home, I thought that he would be no worse than second and that I had a great chance to hit my fourth Derby winner in a row! Then he came up empty. He sat the absolute perfect trip but had nothing left when the real running began.
11th: #8 Hence – The “wise guy” horse did what they usually do… finish mid-pack. He had a tough time early on that forced him back and never could muster up any type of run in the stretch.
12th: #4 Untrapped – He did his normal thing, which is run one-paced all the way around the track. He sat mid-pack and tried to make a run while being VERY wide in the stretch but was empty.
13th: #7 Girvin – What a brutal trip for this poor horse. He had a little trouble early on, then really got bumped hard later in the race and never really recovered. I’m just glad to hear that he came out of the race okay and will hopefully get some time off now for his quarter crack to heal.
14th: #20 Patch – He ended up sitting mid-pack, which was a little surprising. As expected, though, he was very wide leaving from the 20 hole, and like Girvin, he was bumped and had to check hard before making his run. When that happened, he lost all chance at making an impact.
15th: #13 J Boys Echo – He fell back early on like normal and failed to make a run.
16th: #12 Sonneteer – He had all kinds of trouble the entire race while also being parked out wide most of the time, failing to make any impact.
17th: #3 Fast and Accurate – He was part of the early pace and folded when the real running began. He outran my expectations for him by three placings, though, so there’s that!
18th: #9 Irap – He completely failed to fire after sitting mid-pack early on. Maybe he left his best race in Lexington, or maybe he hated the sloppy going.
19th: #6 State of Honor – He set a fast pace and faded hard in the end. He might need a shorter race next time out.
20th: #2 Thunder Snow – This went from tragedy to comedy. Watching live, I thought that Thunder Snow was injured leaving the gate, but as it turns out, he just wanted to be a rodeo horse because he tried to buck the jockey off after leaving the gate. Obviously, something completely spooked him, and I can say with confidence that I’ve never seen anything like that since I started following the sport. I’m thankful that he’s okay.