Victor Espinoza wins second straight Kentucky Derby

Victor Espinoza celebrates after riding American Pharoah to victory in the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Victor Espinoza celebrates after riding American Pharoah to victory in the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

(Garry Jones / Associated Press)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. Victor Espinoza, who rode American Pharoah to victory in Saturday’s 141st Kentucky Derby, became the seventh jockey with three Derby victories and the sixth to post two consecutive wins.

Espinoza won in 2002 on War Emblem and last year on California Chrome.

Calvin Borel was the last jockey to achieve the feat, winning in 2009 on Mine That Bird and 2010 on Super Saver.

“It’s just a relief,” Espinoza said. “I had a little pressure today, the last couple days. It’s always a concern that everything can go wrong in the race.”


Saturday was the fourth time Espinoza rode for Bob Baffert in the Kentucky Derby. He finished 16th on Sinister Minister in the 2006 and Midnight Interlude in the 2011 race.

“Bob Baffert, he is just an amazing trainer,” Espinoza said.

“Victor and I, we have a lot of history going back,” said Baffert, who is from La Canada Flintridge.

Making a run

Firing Line finally beat nemesis Dortmund, who had defeated the Simon Callaghan-trained colt in close finishes in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and the Los Alamitos Derby.

But Firing Line could not hold off American Pharoah.

“The horse has run incredible,” Callaghan said, adding, “He’s done everything but win.”

Said jockey Gary Stevens: “My horse showed his braveness.”

Firing Line finished one length behind American Pharoah and ahead of Dortmund.

“I thought at one point we had it,” Callaghan said, “but then I could see it was going to be extremely close between the three of them.”

He said Firing Line might run in the Preakness. “We’ll just have to see how he is,” he said.


California sweep

The finish was a sweep by California-trained horses.

“I kind of figured they were the best horses,” Callaghan said. “I think a lot of people did.

“It’s a very tough circuit and they’ve been running consistently well.”

Next step?

Dortmund was defeated for the first time, ending his winning streak at six.

Asked whether he would enter the Kaleem Shah-owned colt in the Preakness, Baffert said, “Yeah, I might. I’ll know next week. We’ll just train him and see how he comes out of it.

Would he consider keeping him out to clear the way for American Pharoah?

“No, not at all,” Baffert said, adding, “I don’t think like that.”


Bayern, owned by Shah and trained by Baffert, raced for the first time since winning the 2014 Breeders Cup Classic and finishing last in the Churchill Downs Stakes. “He didn’t handle the track at all,” jockey Martin Garcia said Saturday. …. Bolo, trained by Carla Gaines, the 16th woman to saddle a horse at the Derby, finished 12th. “We did have a good trip. There are really no excuses except that [jockey] Rafael [Bejarano] said when he came to running, the track was just getting away from him..”


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