After reviewing the Kentucky Derby replay, it looks like we had a pretty straight forward race this year in terms of evaluating the performances.
Although he did benefit from a closer-friendly pace scenario, Orb looked like the best horse in the race. He was bumped at the start and was 16th the first time under the wire. Orb took the first turn three-wide, settled on the backstretch, then launched while 5-6-wide on the second turn.
Once straightened for home, he set his sights on the leaders with a good forward focus. Orb wore down Normandy Invasion (who felt the winner's presence closing in) by the 1/8 pole. Orb hit the line 2 1/2 lengths in front. He appears to be an excellent candidate to go for the Triple Crown.
Runner-up Golden Soul delivered a very solid performance, though his finishing position might have been a bit ground and pace aided. Robby Albarado gave Golden Soul a perfect ride. Far back off the hot pace, Golden Soul saved ground all the way to the quarter pole, angled out and closed for 2nd.
Third-place Revolutionary got a very similar trip to Golden Soul. Calvin Borel got Revolutionary to the rail early in 17th place. He followed Golden Soul, only leaving the innermost path briefly at the sixteenth pole. Revolutionary finished in a stiff drive, got a head past tiring Normandy Invasion and galloped out well.
Normandy Invasion ran a big race, better than his 4th-place finish will look on paper. Bumped early, Normandy Invasion fought through traffic and found his way to the inside early. He was in good position by the 3/4 pole in 6th place. Jockey Javier Castellano will probably take some criticism for pulling the trigger early. He had Normandy Invasion out 4-wide, on the move before the 3/8 pole.
Normandy Invasion surged to the lead while 3-wide at the quarter pole. He held until the 1/8 pole, when he succumbed to Orb's pressure from behind. Normandy Invasion missed 3rd by a head. It could reasonably be argued he was 2nd best here.
Mylute steadied early and was in 18th-place, just outside of Revolutionary the first time under the wire. Rosie Napravnik then followed Orb, launching a rally 5 or 6-wide at the 3/8 pole in the winner's wake. Mylute was in position to crash the tri or super, but he hung a little late.
Sixth-place finisher Oxbow broke alertly under Gary Stevens and secured a nice stalking, inside position. Moving up under his own power, Oxbow grabbed second at the 3/4 pole, 3 1/2 lengths behind the leader Palace Malice. Staying on the inside, Stevens pushed the button around the 5/16 pole, but was outmoved by Normandy Invasion. Oxbow was unable to stay with leaders late but was the best of the rest. He might deserve a little extra credit for being near the pace.
No one else ran terribly well, although all have the excuse of a sloppy track.
Palace Malice was far too aggressive in his first race wearing blinkers. He set fractions of :22.57, :45.33, and 1:09.80, and was cooked after a mile in 1:36.16.
Verrazano and Itsmyluckyday stalked the hot pace and faded badly.
After viewing the overhead replay today (Sunday) , I realized Will Take Charge deserves a trip note. He was rallying inside of Orb and checked pretty badly turning for home. His recovery was not great, but it was a significant loss of momentum.