American Pharoah rallies to win Kentucky Derby

Sat May 2, 2015 8:57pm EDT
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(Reuters) - American Pharoah, using a sweeping move from the outside, won a thrilling duel with Firing Line to claim the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday.

For jockey Victor Espinoza, it was his third Kentucky Derby triumph and second in a row after his triumph aboard California Chrome last year.

"That was a tough horse," Espinoza said about overtaking Firing Line in front of a roaring crowd of 170,000. "But turning for home, I knew I had him."

"I feel like the luckiest Mexican on earth."

American Pharoah, a 5-2 top choice going into the race, had won his last four races by a total of 22 lengths including an eight-length romp in the Arkansas Derby, but this time he had to fight his way to victory.

Second choice Dortmund (4-1), unbeaten in six races, led heading into the stretch but Firing Line, a 9-1 pick with 52-year-old Gary Stevens aboard, seized the lead shortly before American Pharoah joined the stretch run charge.

American Pharoah ran side by side with Firing Line before pulling away at the finish for a one-length victory, as Dortmund took third just ahead of Frosted.

The winning time was 2:03.02 after a slower than expected early pace, set up after expected frontrunner Materiality had trouble getting out of the gate.

The victory was the fourth for trainer Bob Baffert, who also saddled Dortmund, and the first for owner Ahmed Zayat, after three runner-up finishes in the Derby.   Continued...

May 2, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Victor Espinoza aboard American Pharoah celebrates winning the 141st Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports