I’ll Have Another has won the Kentucky Derby despite a rookie jockey, a more famous stable pony, and a price tag of just $11,000 ($A10,750) as a yearling.
With Mario Gutierrez aboard, the chestnut colt stormed out of gate 19 and bided his time midfield while Bodemeister set a blistering pace on a hot, muggy afternoon.
“He’s an amazing horse. I kept telling everybody, from the first time I met him, I knew he was the one. I knew he was good,” Gutierrez said.
“I said in an interview, even if they allowed me to pick from the whole rest of the field, I would have stayed with him, 100 per cent, no doubt about it.”
But a record crowd of 165,307 didn’t know 15-1 shot 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.
Bodemeister, trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, held on to finish a neck in front of third placed Dullahan.
Trainer Doug O’Neill didn’t waste any time vowing to give I’ll Have Another his chance in 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 who turned into a career winner of more than $5 million trained 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 early favourite for the 2006 Derby before being sidelined by injuries early that year.
A hot pace was expected from speedster Trinniberg, although, surprisingly, it was Bodemeister under jockey Mike Smith who blazed to the front and forced Trinniberg to take a back seat.
In the late afternoon heat, Bodemeister set impossibly fast fractions. He ran the opening quarter-mile (400km) in 22.32 seconds and the half-mile in 45.39.
Meanwhile, I’ll Have Another was comfortably galloping along behind the blazing speed.
Gutierrez, born in Mexico and riding in his first Derby at 25, angled his colt clear on the final turn and took dead-aim at Bodemeister.