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2010 Moments of the Year: Super Saver wins the Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01:  Calvin Borel atop Super Saver crosses the finish line to win the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01: Calvin Borel atop Super Saver crosses the finish line to win the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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For the second consecutive year the rain gods descended upon Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May. And for the second consecutive year, and third in the last four, jockey Calvin Borel crossed the finish line first, this time with the WinStar colt Super Saver.  Not only did Super Saver's triumph in the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports provide Calvin Borel with additional accolades, but the win gave trainer Todd Pletcher his first Kentucky Derby win.  

While Pletcher and Borel dominated the storyline of the 2010 Derby, the key moment of the race occurred  just after the horses left the starting gate when Lookin At Lucky, the most accomplished colt in the field, had his Derby end before it even started.  Breaking from the one-hole, Lucky had the choice of taking up and shuffling to the back of the pack or finding himself slammed into the rail.  Garret Gomez wisely chose to shuffle back, although the traffic trouble dashed his hopes for the roses.  It's tough to really tell on the video (at the bottom of this post), but you can see Lucky along the rail for about three or four steps...and then he disappears behind a wall of horses.  

With Lookin at Lucky's chances gone almost from the moment he left the gate, the 2010 Derby became a wide-open affair.  Conveyance and Sidney's Candy set solid fractions on the front-end, while Noble's Promise found himself in a good stalking position from which he moved to the front of the field as the field came off the far turn.  Nobel's Promise held the lead for only a brief moment as Super Saver and Borel gained the advantage from the rail and pulled away from the field inside the final quarter mile.  Nick Zito's Ice Box put in a spirited late run down the middle of the track in the closing stride, but it's too little, too late to catch Pletcher's first Derby winner.

One of the things I like to do at the end of each year is to look back at the Derby and see what the horses in the field ended up doing in the months that followed.  Below is a summary of the accomplishments (or lack thereof) for each of the nineteen horses to run in this year's Derby.  With the exception of Lookin At Lucky, most Derby horses ended up switching surfaces or cutting back in distance in order to find success during the summer and fall.

  • Super Saver: 8th in the Preakness; 4th in the Haskell; 10th in the Travers. 

    Super Saver was retired just prior to the Breeders' Cup.
  • Ice Box: 8th in the Belmont; 6th in the Haskell; 8th in the Travers; 5th in the Monmouth Cup. 

    A deep closer that tends to be a slave to the pace situation, Ice Box was unable to carry his spring form through the summer.
  • Paddy O'Prado: 6th in the Preakness; 1st Colonial Turf Cup, Virginia Derby and Secretariat Stakes; 2nd in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, 5th in the Breeders' Cup Classic. 

    Next to Lookin At Lucky, Paddy was probably the most successful three-year-old of 2010, and that is due to an excellent training job by Dale Romans.  Instead of continuing to point to dirt Classic races, Romans ran Paddy on the turf where he displayed an excellent affinity for the surface.  Breeding value pushed Paddy back to the main track for the Breeders' Cup, but he stamped himself a top turf runner throughout the summer.
  • Make Music For Me: 9th in the Belmont, 8th in the Oak Tree Derby; 1st in an Allowance. 
  • Noble's Promise: 5th in the St. James's Palace (Royal Ascot), 1st in the Jimmy V.

    His connections took him to England to try the big boys at Royal Ascot where he ran credibly.  From there he was given a long lay-off from which he came back to win a listed stake at Churchill prior to the Breeders' Cup.  Noble's Promise is expected to run in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita this weekend.
  • Lookin At Lucky: 1st in the Preakness; 1st in the Haskell; 1st in the Indiana Derby; 4th in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

    Bob Baffert's colt was by far the most successful three-year-old of 2010 by following up his tough luck trip in the Derby with two Grade 1 wins and a Grade 2. 
  • Dublin: 5th in the Preakness. 

    I haven't heard a peep about this horse in a long, long time.  I don't believe he's retried, but he's also not racing.
  • Stately Victor: 7th in the Belmont; 5th in the Virginia Derby; 1st in the Ontario Derby; 3rd in the Fayette; 9th in the Clark Hcp., 2nd in the Prairie Bayou.

    The upset winner of the Blue Grass raced on traditional dirt two times after the Kentucky Derby, and was well beaten in every one of those races.  In his three synthetic starts following the Derby, he finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
  • Mission Impazible: Hasn't raced since the Derby after suffering from a bone chip in the knee.
  • Devil May Care: 1st in the Mother Goose; 1st in the Coaching Club American Oaks; 4th in the Alabama.

    The lone filly in this year's Derby missed the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic due to an illness.
  • American Lion: Hasn't raced since the Derby.
  • Jackson Bend: 3rd in the Preakness; 5th in the Pegasus; 6th in the Star of Cozzene; 4th in the Ack Ack.
  • Discreetly Mine: 2nd in the Woody Stephens; 1st in the Jersey Shore; 1st in the Amsterdam; 1st in the King's Bishiop.

    The key to the post-Derby success of this Todd Pletcher trainee was abandoning any thought of running two-turns and concentrating on sprint races.  Discreetly Mine was retired prior to the Breeders' Cup.
  • Dean's Kitten: 5th in the Colonial Turf Cup; 4th in the American Derby; 5th in the Secretariat; 5th in the Hawthorne Derby.
  • Conveyance: Hasn't raced since the Derby.
  • Homeboykris: 6th in an Allowance
  • Sidney's Candy: 2nd in the Swaps; 1st in the La Jolla; 6th in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

    Another Derby contender that found success when switched to a different surface (turf).
  • Line of David:  Retired almost immediately following the Derby.  A picture of Line of David should be in the horse racing dictionary next to the phrase "Early Retirement".
  • Awesome Act: Hasn't raced since the Derby.
  • Backtalk: 3rd in the Red Legend; 2nd in the Jimmy V.; 3rd in the Bonapaw.