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2015 Kentucky Derby

The 2015 Kentucky Derby was the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby. The race was run at 6:44 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on May 2, 2015, at Churchill Downs.[2] It was broadcast in the United States on the NBC television network.[3] Kentucky native Ashley Judd voiced the opening for the telecast of the race, and was the first woman to do so.[4][5]

141st Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby
Official logo for the 2015 Kentucky Derby
LocationChurchill Downs
DateMay 2, 2015 (2015-05-02)
Winning horseAmerican Pharoah
JockeyVictor Espinoza
TrainerBob Baffert
OwnerZayat Stables, LLC
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The weather was warm, and a record 170,513 people attended.[6] The 2015 race also set a wagering record with parimutuel betting of $137.9 million.[1] Jockey Victor Espinoza rode American Pharoah to victory after taking the lead in the homestretch.[7] The race marked the fourth Kentucky Derby win for horse trainer Bob Baffert and the third win for Espinoza.


The Kentucky Derby is a race for 3-year-old Thoroughbred horses. The 2015 field was determined by a points system that was introduced in 2013.[8]


The post position draw of the entries for the Kentucky Derby was held on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, at the Churchill Downs Racetrack clubhouse.[9] American Pharoah was installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite.[10] The day after the draw, Todd Pletcher scratched Stanford, stating that the horse was "fine" but they were not pleased with the draw and had been "on the fence" about running in the Derby.[11] On May 1, El Kabeir was scratched due to a possible hoof problem;[12] however, the also-eligible Tale of Verve did not get a chance to run since the scratch was made after the cutoff time that allows also-eligible runners to start in the race.[12] Early on race day, International Star was also scratched after having problems with his left-front foot.[13]

Overall, the 2015 field was considered "the deepest and most talented in decades". Trainer Bob Baffert had the top two favorites: American Pharoah and Dortmund.[14] Dortmund, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, was 6–0 entering the race, a feat matched by 1977 winner Seattle Slew and 2004 winner Smarty Jones. American Pharoah was 4–1, having placed fifth in his debut before running off four straight victories, including an eight-length win in the Arkansas Derby.[14] Baffert described the experience as like being "on pins and needles all week long," as reporters and fans expected one of his two horses to win.[14] Other notable horses in the field included the undefeated Florida Derby champion Materiality; Frosted, who beat a loaded Wood Memorial field; Mubtaahij, who had won four of the five races he entered in Dubai; and Sunland Derby winner Firing Line, who had lost to Dortmund twice by very narrow margins.[14]

Race descriptionEdit

National Guard providing security at the winners circle at Churchill Downs on Derby day

The weather on race day, May 2, 2015, was warm. A record setting 170,513 fans watched the race live at Churchill Downs.[6] The 2015 race also set a record for money wagered with $137.9 million bet from all sources on the Derby and $194.3 million for the entire day of racing.[1] Eighteen horses started the race, which was the eleventh on the race card and started at 6:43 p.m.[15] Television viewership was also higher than in previous years. The Nielsen ratings for the race were 9.6/23, which translated into roughly 16 million viewers.[16]

Dortmund was the first out of the gate, followed closely by Firing Line and then American Pharoah.[15] In the early stages of the Kentucky Derby, Dortmund and Firing Line traded the lead several times. Carpe Diem and American Pharoah were also at the front of the pack, just behind the leaders.[7] Dortmund took the inside position and held it throughout the race.[14] As the horses came around the final turn, it was a three-horse race. Dortmund held the lead on the inside, but Firing Line, running more toward the middle of the track, passed him.[14] American Pharoah, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took the final turn very wide but had the lead by a head in the homestretch.[15] From there, he increased his lead, winning with a time of 2:03.02. Firing Line finished second, one length back; Dortmund took third, three lengths off the lead. Frosted and Danzig Moon rounded out the top five.[17]

It was second straight Derby win for Espinoza, who rode California Chrome to victory in 2014, and his third overall. "I feel like the luckiest Mexican on Earth," he declared after the race.[7] For trainer Bob Baffert, it was his fourth Derby victory and his first since 2002. Espinoza and Baffert had teamed up to win the 2002 Kentucky Derby with War Emblem. For owner Ahmed Zayat, it was his first Derby victory and the end of a streak of losses. His horses had placed second in three of the previous six Kentucky Derbies, including 2009 when American Pharoah's sire, Pioneerof The Nile, finished second.[18] Additionally, Zayat's 2010 entry, Eskendereya, was the morning line favorite but had to scratch with a career-ending leg injury. "I'm speechless," Zayat said. "No more seconds ... This is one special horse ... This is a dream come true."[17] Zayat collected $1.4 million for the win out of the $2.2 million total purse.[19] American Pharoah became the first two-year-old champion to win the Derby since Street Sense in 2007.[18]


Finish Post Horse Jockey Trainer Morning Line
Final Odds[15] Margin
Winnings Points
1 18 American Pharoah Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert 5-2 2.9 $1,240,000 160
2 10 Firing Line Gary Stevens Simon Callaghan 12-1 9.5 1 $400,000 58
3 8 Dortmund Martin Garcia Bob Baffert 3-1 4.3 3 $200,000 170
4 15 Frosted Joel Rosario Kiaran McLaughlin 15-1 10.3 3 14 $100,000 113
5 5 Danzig Moon Julien Leparoux Mark E. Casse 30-1 22.6 8 12 $60,000 45
6 3 Materiality Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher 12-1 11.5 7 34 100
7 14 Keen Ice Kent Desormeaux Dale Romans 50-1 45.8 8 34 22
8 6 Mubtaahij Christophe Soumillon Michael de Kock 20-1 14.4 9 12 100
9 13 Itsaknockout Luis Saez Todd Pletcher 30-1 30.6 10 14 60
10 2 Carpe Diem John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 8-1 7.7 11 160
11 21 Frammento Corey Nakatani Nick Zito 50-1 69.5 12 20
12 9 Bolo Rafael Bejarano Carla Gaines 30-1 31.9 12 34 30
13 17 Mr. Z Ramon A. Vazquez D. Wayne Lukas 50-1 36.6 15 12 34
14 1 Ocho Ocho Ocho Elvis Trujillo James M. Cassidy 50-1 26.1 15 12 30
15 20 Far Right Mike E. Smith Ron Moquett 30-1 39.2 15 34 62
16 16 War Story Joe Talamo Tom Amoss 50-1 45.3 19 14 44
17 4 Tencendur Manny Franco George Weaver 30-1 52.3 35 41
18 19 Upstart Jose Ortiz Richard Violette 15-1 15.7 60 12 76
scratched[13] 12 International Star Miguel Mena Michael Maker SCR - - 171
scratched[12] 7 El Kabeir Calvin Borel John Terranova SCR - - 95
scratched[11] 11 Stanford Florent Geroux Todd Pletcher SCR - - 40
scratched[12] 22 Tale of Verve Brian Hernandez, Jr. Dallas Stewart SCR - - 0

Track – Fast

Times:14 mile – 23.24; ​12 mile – 47.34; ​34 mile – 1:11.29; mile – 1:36.45; final – 2:03.02.
Splits for each quarter-mile: (23.24) (24.10) (23.95) (25.16) (26.57)

Source: Equibase Chart[15]


The Kentucky Derby Payout Schedule[15]

Horse Name
18 American Pharoah   $7.80 $5.80 $4.20
10 Firing Line $8.40 $5.40
8 Dortmund $4.20


  1. ^ a b c Press Release (May 2, 2015). "Record $194.3 Million Wagered, All-Time High 170,513 Attend Kentucky Derby". Paulick Report. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  2. ^ "Your Trip to the Derby 2015". Churchill Downs Incorporated. 2015.
  3. ^ "Watch the Derby". Churchill Downs Incorporated. 2015.
  4. ^ Doxsie, Don. "Eye Openers: Bears needed defense, but did the White thing". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  5. ^ "Ashley Judd to be first woman to narrate opening of Kentucky Derby". Associated Press. Fox News. April 25, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Ragsdale, Travis (May 2, 2015). "Kentucky Derby 141 breaks attendance record". WDRB News. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Busbee, Jay (May 2, 2015). "American Pharoah wins Kentucky Derby". The Turnstile. Yahoo Sports. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "About the Road to the Kentucky Derby". Churchill Downs Incorporated. 2015.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Ron (April 29, 2015). "Tale of Verve Among 22 Entered for KY Derby". Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  10. ^ Mihoces, Gary (April 29, 2015). "Kentucky Derby favorite American Pharoah draws post 18". USA Today Sports. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Novak, Claire (April 30, 2015). "KY Derby: Stanford Out, Frammento In". Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d Novak, Claire (May 1, 2015). "El Kabeir Scratched From Kentucky Derby". Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  13. ^ a b Angst, Frank (May 2, 2015). "International Star Scratched from the Derby". Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Drape, Joe (May 2, 2015). "Kentucky Derby 2015: American Pharoah Wins a Close Race". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i "11th Race, Churchill Downs, May 2, 2015". Equibase. May 2, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 3, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  16. ^ Blood-Horse Staff (May 5, 2015). "Average of 16 Million Viewed KY Derby on NBC". Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Mihoces, Gary (May 2, 2015). "American Pharoah wins 141st Kentucky Derby". USA Today. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  18. ^ a b Hammonds, Evan (May 2, 2015). "Favored American Pharoah Wins Kentucky Derby". Blood Horse. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  19. ^ Klein, Gary (May 2, 2015). "American Pharoah rules in Kentucky Derby". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 3, 2015.