Steve Cauthen Wins 206th Epsom Derby : American Rides 9-4 Favorite Slip Anchor to Seven-Length Victory
Steve Cauthen became the first U. S. jockey in the last 65 years to win the Epsom Derby when he rode Slip Anchor to an easy victory Wednesday in the 206th running of Britain’s premier flat-racing event.
A crowd of more than 250,000, including Queen Elizabeth II, watched Slip Anchor cross the finish line more than seven lengths ahead. The colt, a 9-4 favorite in the 14-horse field, led from start to finish and covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2 minutes 36 1/5 seconds.
Law Society, 5-1 with Pat Eddery aboard, was second, and Damister, a 16-1 longshot, was third, another six lengths back.
Cauthen’s victory was the first for an American since Frank O’Neill rode the winner in 1920.
The Kentuckian is now the first jockey ever to win both the Epsom Derby and the U.S. Triple Crown races--the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. He did that with Affirmed in 1978.
“I couldn’t believe when I turned and looked behind me, coming into the straight, how far in front I was,” Cauthen said. “But Slip Anchor wasn’t even flat-out.”
Eddery said for a moment that he thought “I might have a chance of catching Slip Anchor, but then I realized he was running us ragged.”
Asked whether Slip Anchor was the best horse he’d ever ridden, Cauthen paused, then replied: “I think I’d have to say yes. This horse kills them before they have a chance to get at him. I have never ridden a horse with such a stride.”
The 25-year-old Cauthen has lived in Britain since 1979, gradually improving his command of the rolling, grass-covered English tracks and becoming the champion jockey in 1984.
Cauthen had a troublesome start to the day when early-morning mist delayed his helicopter from Newmarket, home of trainer Henry Cecil’s stables. He was to have ridden Calixtus in the first race at Epsom but arrived too late. The horse won without him.
Later, the mist cleared and the threat of rain receded, allowing Cauthen to saddle up for what Press Association, the British domestic news agency, called “the most devastating all-the-way Derby triumph of the century.”
Cauthen’s victory in the Derby, his first in six tries, spoiled what veteran jockey Lester Piggott had hoped would be a triumphant end to his career, which spanned four decades.
Piggott, who won the first of his nine Derbies in 1954 aboard Never Say Die, was widely reported as planning to retire after the race. He finished seventh aboard Theatrical.
Meanwhile, it was party time for the Cauthen clan, including the jockey’s father, Tex, who arrived from Kentucky to watch his son ride. “We’ll be lifting a glass or two tonight,” he said.