With a huge move around final turn and into the stretch, Malibu Moon's Orb rolled to victory in the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1) over a sloppy track Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Orb's win puts Malibu Moon's 2013 progeny earnings mark near $4.5 million, making him the nation's leading sire by North American earnings.
With red-hot rider Joel Rosario in the irons, Orb broke cleanly but was under reserve for the first time by the finish line, with just three horses beat into the first turn. Rosario continued to bide his time near the back while Palace Malice set very quick fractions, going six furlongs in 1:09.80.
Orb began to pick off horses going into the final turn. Still very wide coming into the stretch, Orb was under a full head of steam about three lengths behind Normandy Invasion and Oxbow, who had moved in tandem to the front. Orb made up the gap in the next furlong, rolling past the weakening frontrunners to win by 2 1/2-lengths over a late-closing Perfect Soul in 2:02.89 over a very wet track that had taken rain for most of the day.
Since Orb's arrival at Churchill Downs some two weeks ago, Orb had been the talk of the backside, especially following his stellar half-mile work on Monday. He was installed the 7-2 morning line favorite following Wednesday's post position selections, where he drew #16.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was taking all the pre-Derby preparations very much in stride as well as he went for his first-ever Derby victory. Likewise, co-owners Stuart Janney III and Dinny Phipps were seeking the long-sought goal.
Orb's victory was worth $1,414,800 and improved his career earnings to $2,335,850 with a record of 8-5-0-1. His winning streak of five straight includes victories in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, both at Gulfstream Park.
“Seth (Hancock, owner of Claiborne Farm) was helpful in choosing Malibu Moon for the mating with (Orb's dam Lady Liberty),” said Janney. “I come from Maryland, and I was always interested in Malibu Moon. He's shown he is a top sire.”
McGaughey said Orb would leave for New York on Sunday, where he will train until shipping to Pimlico for the Preakness S. (G1) on May 18.
“We're set up better than anybody, and if everything is right, I can't wait to get to Preakness and do it again,” said McGaughey.