Nyquist, ridden by record-setting Mario Gutierrez, won the 142nd running of Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
“He’s such a special horse,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “He’s such a professional.”
Nyquist, a 2-1 favorite who is now undefeated in eight starts, grabbed the lead down the homestretch and held off Exaggerator to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
Gun Runner was third, edging Mor Spirit.
“It was an amazing feeling, ” Gutierrez said. “Nyquist only needs a horse to push him. If he feels somebody coming he’s going to keep going as fast as he needs to go. I have never doubted my horse.”
The official winning time for the 1 1/4-mile race was a fast 2:01.31.
Gutierrez was aboard Derby winner I’ll Have Another in 2012 in his only other start in the Run for the Roses. He became the first jockey to win his first two Derby races.
I’ll Have Another, also owned by Paul Reddam, won the Preakness four years ago but missed the Belmont Stakes because of a tendon injury.
The next leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, will be held May 21.
Reddam said: “I only thought to this (race). Maybe later tonight we’ll think about two weeks from now. Having been close to a possible Triple Crown (in 2012) made me realize it doesn’t happen until it happens, so we’re going to enjoy this moment.”
A total of 167,227 people attended the Derby, the second-highest attendance ever for the race. Last year, there were 170,513 fans.