LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Perfect again.
Calvin Borel grabbed the rail and didn’t let go Saturday, sloshing through the slop on another flawless ride to win his third Kentucky Derby in four years.
The most wide-open Derby in years ended with a sure thing — Borel crossing the finish line and punching the air with this right fist, raising it toward the gray sky.
The jockey’s magic touch gave trainer Todd Pletcher his first Derby victory after 24 failures.
His ride nearly duplicated the one he turned in last year aboard 50-1 shot Mine That Bird, except he and Super Saver went off at lower odds and were never in last place.
Borel was confident enough in his colt and his knowledge of his home track to take him off the lead in the early going of the 1 1/4-mile race at Churchill Downs. In all but one of his six previous races, Super Saver had never been farther back than second in the early stages.
Borel knew that strategy wouldn’t work in a 20-horse Derby field on a tiring, sloppy track. Breaking from the No. 4 post, he immediately tucked his colt along the rail — a predictable move from the rider nicknamed “Bo-rail” — and there they stayed almost the entire way.
Super Saver was timed in 2:04.45 as the second-choice behind favorite Lookin At Lucky, whose 6-1 odds tied Harlan’s Holiday in 2002 for the longest priced favorite in 136 runnings. He paid $18, $8.80 and $6.
Trained by Nick Zito, Ice Box returned $11.20 and $8 after nipping Paddy O’Prado at the wire for second. Paddy O’Prado paid $7.40 to show.
Pletcher let out a whoop and slapped his hands together after his colt crossed the finish line, snapping a skid that the Eclipse Award-winning trainer was eager to end.
He seemed to have a lock on his first Derby win until expected favorite Eskendereya was withdrawn last weekend with a swollen leg. That left Pletcher with four horses in the race, but none was as highly regarded.