And he won because of jockey Mike Smith, who used his experience in 11 previous Derbies
to judge the pace perfectly and let Giacomo run his race.
It was that the grayish son of Holy Bull is tactically versatile, comfortable racing close to the early leaders or far back, depending on the pace; that the colt reached peak fitness under the patient Shirreffs, who saw steady improvement in five consecutive defeats at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita; and that he had a cool-headed jockey with the experience of 11 losing Derbies
and a week riding at Churchill.
But many Derbies
have been won by horses who took a step back in the final prep as if saving energy for the big one.
Now Baffert, who has won Kentucky Derbies
with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002), and Tokyo's Sekiguchi, who won the Derby with Neil Drysdale-trained Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), can imagine themselves winning a Derby together May 7.
I'd certainly rather be favored than 20-1,'' said Ellis, mindful that post-time favorites have lost 23 of the past 25 Derbies
Numbers: Smarty Jones' $854,800, plus the $5 million bonus paid by Oaklawn Park for winning both the Arkansas and Kentucky derbies
, raised his career earnings to $6,733,155.