Gormley's stirring stretch drive in Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) earned the Malibu Moon colt a spot in this year's May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1) and gave the 3-year-old colt his third graded stakes victory.
Malibu Moon, sire of 2014 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, has a potent Derby-Oaks punch this year with Gormley and Farrell, who swept the Fair Grounds' stakes series for 3-year-old fillies. Malibu Moon is currently fifth on this year's General Sire List with over $3 million in progeny earnings.
After breaking very sharply, Victor Espinoza took Gormley back off the lead as the 13-horse field made its way into the first turn. Gormley relaxed nicely for Espinoza for the backstretch run and was about a half-dozen lengths off the lead after a half-mile in :46.55.
On the final bend, Gormley gained ground rapidly and circled three-wide to challenge for the lead. Early pacesetters Battle of Midway and Royal Mo hung on gamely in the stretch, but could not hold off Gormley's rally, with the final margin officially a half-length in 1:51.16 on a fast track.
“He relaxed very nice. Down the backside, I started laughing to myself because I knew I was in a good position and I knew all the horses in front of me were going to stop,” said Espinoza, Gormley's only rider in six career starts. “He’s not a very big horse but he’s tough and that’s what I like about him. He works really hard and that’s what it takes.”
A winner of the FrontRunner S. (G1) in his second start on Oct. 1, Gormley took the Sham S. (G3) two starts back and now has an overall mark of 6-4-0-0. With the $600,000 Derby first prize, he now has earnings of $920,000.