In front of a near-record crowd of 164,906, Victor Espinoza guided California Chrome to a rather comfortable win in the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Espinoza had California Chrome -- who he's ridden to five wins in five mounts -- in a good spot at the top of the stretch and he completely took control in the stretch run. California Chrome blew away the competition in the last couple furlongs, giving Victor Espinoza his second career Derby win.
"It's like a dream now," Espinoza said afterwards, "to win a second one."
At 77, Art Sherman became the oldest trainer to win a Kentucky Derby.
"He gave me the biggest thrill of my life," trainer Art Sherman told NBC Sports after the race. "Words can't describe how I feel; it's a dream come true.
"I'm just the same ol' Art Sherman. Except I won the Kentucky Derby."
This is true, and it wasn't even that close. There was no challenge in the stretch run from the rest of the field, and California Chrome coasted to victory. He became the first California-bred horse to win the Derby since 1962.
Despite the ostensibly dominant win, California Chrome registered just a time of 2:03.66 -- hardly an impressive mark. Only two winners since 1989 have had a winning time slower than California Chrome's.
California Chrome paid $7.00 to win on a $2 bet, while Commanding Curve paid $31.80 to place.
And next comes the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, and owner Steve Coburn seems somewhat confident in his horse's chances there and beyond.
"I believe this horse will win the Triple Crown," Coburn said. "I'm gonna tell everybody right here & right now."
Sherman seems agreeable to that stance.
"I think California Chrome is a rock star," Sherman said, "and I'm his manager, and I'm gonna go all the way."
Check below for a complete recap of the day's events.
6:18 p.m.: The singing of "My Old Kentucky Home" is in the books and the horses are approaching the gate.
Here they come. pic.twitter.com/9RbOSzmz0d— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 3, 2014
6:10 p.m.: Three-time Derby winner Calvin Borel making his way to the paddock and awaiting the riders up call from -- who else? -- Julius Erving.
Calvin looks like the cat who ate the canary pic.twitter.com/AYkpo4M1v2— TVG (@TVG) May 3, 2014
6:05 p.m.: Here's a shot of Danza (the horse) making his pre-race walk to the paddock.
Danza looks tremendous pic.twitter.com/O86LEc0EGH— TVG (@TVG) May 3, 2014
5:50 p.m.: The horses are making their way to the paddock area, and NBC caught up with several trainers on the walk over. The talk mainly centered around one thing: speed. The track is running fast, so a clean break is imperative.
One horse of interest is Ride On Curlin with Calvin Borel aboard. Borel knows his way around the Churchill Downs track, but he prefers making a move on the rail. That will be tough this year, since he'll be breaking from the 19 slot, which is to say way on the outside.
California Chrome entered the week as the betting favorite, and things opened up further when Hoppertunity scratched Thursday. Tapiture, trainer Steve Asmussen's entry, is also an alluring pick as Asmussen shoots for the Oaks/Derby double after he took yesterday's race with the heavily-favored Untapable.
However, if history is any guide, favorites aren't a shoo-in in the Derby, so the race will likely be wide open. Good thing there's a gigantic TV for the Churchill Downs patrons to watch the most exciting two minutes in sports.
As someone who has frequently visited the track and bet on horses, it's always nice to see a newcomer waltz in and find a bit of success. Like, say, five-time Pro Bowler Wes Welker. Good for you, Wes, for apparently winning thousands of dollars. We're all very happy for you.
After night of partying at Barnstable Brown, Wes Welker carrying around wads of cash he won at Kentucky Derby: pic.twitter.com/Ce9xF3ufUK— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) May 3, 2014
While Tony Danza will not be running in the Derby (only horses allowed), a horse named for him, Danza, will. Tony made the trip to offer his support.
The real Danza. pic.twitter.com/tnt601mUaS— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 3, 2014
Jason Dufner made the trip and brought with him that face he always makes. Here he is holding the very trophy he hopes to be holding in Louisville this August after the PGA Championship at Valhalla.
Wise Dan, the winner of the 9th race (and not a person, but still), on the big board before post time. That thing is HUGE.
Though we can't see anyone here, we can certainly assume some people of note made their way to the track in these bad boys.
Below is a collection of photographs of people wearing hats. The Derby is well-known for its, um, stylish headgear, and this year's batch has not disappointed.
Johnny Weir's hat. Just, Johnny Weir's hat.