LOUISVILLE, Ky. — I'll Have Another ran down Bodemeister in the final furlong Saturday to win the Kentucky Derby, winding up in the winner's circle despite a rookie jockey, a more famous stable pony, and a price tag of just $11,000 as a yearling.
With Mario Gutierrez aboard, the chestnut colt stormed out of post No. 19 — the first winner from that slot in 138 runnings of the Derby — and bided his time back in mid-pack while Bodemeister set a blistering pace on a hot, muggy afternoon.
"He's an amazing horse," Gutierrez said. "I told everybody before the first time I rode him, I knew he was the one."
But a record crowd of 165,307 looking on didn't know I'll Have Another had the goods until the 20-horse field turned for home. That's when Gutierrez, who moved up between horses around the final turn, positioned his colt not far from the rail and set him down to run.
I'll Have Another overhauled a tiring Bodemeister to win by 1 1/2 lengths at 15-1 odds. He paid $32.60, $13.80 and $9.
Bodemeister, trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, was second and returned $6.20 and $5.60. Dullahan was a neck back in third and paid $7.20 to show.
Trainer Doug O'Neill didn't waste any time vowing that I'll Have Another will go on to the Preakness in two weeks.
"Maryland, here we come, baby!" he said.
I'll Have Another made his way to the starting gate accompanied by his stable pony, Lava Man, another cheap purchase turned into a career winner of more than $5 million by O'Neill. The trainer has made his name predominantly in Southern California, although he's won three Breeders' Cup races.
One of his best horses, Steviewonderboy, was the winter favorite for the 2006 Derby before being sidelined by injuries early that year.
A hot pace was anticipated from speedster Trinniberg, although surprisingly it was Bodemeister under jockey Mike Smith who blazed to the front and forced Trinniberg to take a backseat. In the late afternoon heat, Bodemeister set impossibly fast fractions. He ran the opening quarter-mile in 22.32 seconds and the half-mile in 45.39.
"I told Mike, 'Look, if he breaks great and feels like running, we can win it,' " said Baffert, who had a heart attack in Dubai five weeks ago. "That's the only time I've run second where I've been happy because he ran his race."
Meanwhile, I'll Have Another was comfortably galloping along behind the blazing speed. Gutierrez angled his colt clear on the final turn and took dead-aim at Bodemeister, who was clearly in front at the top of the stretch.
"I knew we were in trouble when I saw Doug's horse coming," said Smith, who won the Derby with 50-1 shot Giacomo in 2005.
Went the Day Well finished fourth, followed by Creative Cause, Liaison, 5-1 second choice Union Rags, Rousing Sermon, Hansen, Daddy Nose Best and Optimizer.
Alpha was 12th, followed by El Padrino, Done Talking, Sabercat, 8-1 third choice Gemologist, Trinniberg, Prospective and Take Charge Indy. Daddy Long Legs was last.