The most famous race in America is the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/4 miles at historic Churchill Downs and the start of the Triple Crown. Conditions were ideal on the first Saturday in May, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70's for the record 170,513 paying spectators in attendance. After El Kabeir, International Star, and Stanford scratched with second also-eligible Tale of Verve not drawing in, a field of 18 three-year-olds went to post beneath the Twin Spires for this 1 1/4 mile main track classic. Rebel (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1) winner American Pharoah was sent off as the 3-1 favorite, off a 4 race winning streak. In to challenge him included 4-1 second choice Dortmund, undefeated in 6 starts including the San Felipe (G2) and the Santa Anita Derby (G1), and 8-1 third choice Carpe Diem, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the Blue Grass Stakes (G1). 9-1 fourth choice Firing Line, winner of the Sunland Derby, was the only other horse in the field at single digit odds.
When the gate opened at 6:43pm, jockey Martin Garcia sent Dortmund to the lead and he set fractions of 23.24, 47.34, 1:11.29, and 1:36.45 over the fast track while stalked by Firing Line and pressed by American Pharoah and 10-1 fifth choice Carpe Diem. Dortmund continued to lead to the 3/16 pole but jockey Victor Espinoza angled American Pharoah to the center of the track for room. The favorite poked his head in front at the 1/8 pole and fought off Firing Line late to win by a length in 2:03.02. It was 2 lengths back to pacesetter Dortmund third, and a neck more to 10-1 fifth choice Frosted fourth. Carpe Diem faded late to finish 10th.