Sunday Silence took the lead on the final turn, then held off heavily favored Easy Goer to win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
The victory was the second in three years for 76-year-old trainer Charlie Whittingham and it smashed the Derby dreams of Ogden Phipps, the 80-year-old owner of Easy Goer.Pat Valenzuela, winning his first Derby, got Sunday Silence to the end of the 1 1/4 miles in 2:05, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Easy Goer.
Easy Goer's stablemate, Awe Inspiring, was another head back and three-quarters of a length in front of Dansil.
Sunday Silence's victory was on the first muddy track since Tim Tam won in 1958.
Pat Day, Easy Goer's jockey, had won the five previous races on the coldest Derby day in 72 years. It was 43 degrees a few moments before the 15 3-year-olds blasted out of the gate at the top of the stretch. It was 45 degrees in 1917, when Omar Khayyam won.
Sunday Silence was bumped coming out of the gate, but Valenzuela had him fourth by the time the field entered the clubhouse turn. The colt, now unbeaten in four races as a 3-year-old, remained fourth into the turn, when he made the move that put him into the lead.
The Derby was delayed for several minutes when Triple Buck threw his right front shoe and had to return to the paddock for reshodding.
He came back onto the track at 5:38 and the field left the gate at 5:42 EDT, nine minutes after the scheduled start.
The Shug McGaughey entry of Easy Goer-Awe Inspiring, was a 4-5 favorite, the first odds-on choice since Spectacular Bid won in 1979. And Easy Goer, considered by some to be the next Secretariat, was the much stronger half of the entry.
Before the race, Whittingham said, "It's no use worrying about Easy Goer. I'm not afraid. I might get beat, but I'm not afraid of anything."
Sunday Silence, owned by Whittingham, Arthur B. Hancock III and Dr. Ernest Gaillard, returned $8.20, $3 and 3.60 in earning $574,200.
The entry paid $2.60 and $3.40. Awe Inspiring is owned by Ogden Mills Phipps, Phipps' son.
Completing the order of finish were:
Hawkster, Northern Wolf, Irish Actor, Houston, Triple Buck, Shy Tom, Wind Splitter, Flying Continental, Clever Trevor, Faultless Ensign and Western Playboy.
Notation was scratched. Each starter carried 126 pounds.
It had to be a bitter defeat for McGaughey, a native of Lexington, who used to train regularly at Churchill Downs. He brought Easy Goer to the Downs last Nov. 5 as a favorite for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile. That race also was run on a muddy track and Easy Goer finished second by 1 1-4 lengths to Is It True.
He had won all three of his starts this year and McGaughey was confident he could handle the off going this time. But it was not to be and he finished second in America's most famous race, just as his sire Alydar did in 1978.
Day had Easy Goer fifth going around the clubhouse turn. Easy Goer had dropped back to sixth on the final turn, then made a big charge through the stretch on the rail.
A few days before the race, the 38-year-old McGaughey said if Whittingham says "Sunday Silence is ready, that's good enough for me."
Sunday Silence let it be known before the long stretch run began that Whittingham wasn't kidding.