The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve took place Saturday, May 5, at Churchill Downs. Twenty of the worlds most talented three-year-old race horses vied for the $2,192,000 prize and a leg up in this year’s hunt for the next Triple Crown winner. Race favorite Justify, trained by Bob Baffert, and ridden by American Equus Chosen Rider Mike Smith, dominated the race from its start to the tremendous finish. The 144th rendition of the historic event is the second Derby win for Smith and completes American Equus‘ quest to win every race in the Triple Crown that includes the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Track conditions at Churchill Downs were soggy as near constant rain pelted all of the Bluegrass State on race day. Smith, along with his American Equus Thoroughbred Racing Irons, conquered the near impossible conditions, seemingly with ease.
“Going in to the race, my main concern was getting him out of the gate,” said Smith. “This horse (Justify) is so above average, I knew that if I could get him out and get him in a rhythm I could take a sigh of relief. l just kept a leg on each side and my mind in the middle and he took care of the rest,” remarked Smith.
Smith, at 52-years-old, is the second oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby and is widely regarded as one of the sport’s most influential and successful riders.
“Just keep riding horses like this and they will keep you around for a long time, they do all the hard work for you,” laughed Smith. “I just want to thank everyone here and my sponsors, what happened today was what I have been dreaming about.”
With difficult conditions to manage, the ultralight-weight Thoroughbred Racing Irons help to keep Smith stable and comfortable. American Equus has been working closely with Smith for almost two-years to develop irons that fit his needs and have been a pivotal part in his success. The unique foot bed design incorporates technology that helps the jockey maintain balance as well as keep their foot secure in the stirrup, which proved to be an integral part of Smith’s win when breaking from the gate and his safety during the race.
“Watching Mike Smith win the Kentucky Derby with Justify was a dream come true for,” remarked David Shano, American Equus Founder and CEO. “American Equus is a fairly young company and Mike Smith was one of our first Chosen Riders, so we feel a very strong bond with his successes. To win all three of the Triple Crown races is obviously a dream come true and we are looking forward to achieving more success in the years to come.”
To see complete results from the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, click here.