LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Bodemeister shot to the lead and kept on going, setting the four fastest fractional times by one horse in Kentucky Derby history. When he spurted clear by five lengths in midstretch, it looked as if he were gone. But a mile in a blazing 1:35.19 on a sultry day was catching up to him, and another California-based colt was coming hard. When I'll Have Another drew alongside, Bodemeister couldn't hold him off.
Only I'll Have Another had a chance to run down the 4-1 favorite, and inside the sixteenth pole, he and jockey Mario Gutierrez went by. The 15-1 shot drew away to take the 138th Derby by 1½ lengths over Bodemeister, with late-running Dullahan third, a neck farther back, as a record crowd of 165,307 roared.
"This is beautiful!" said trainer Doug O'Neill, who yelled "Where's the wire?" as his colt approached it. "Maryland, here we come, baby!''
Gutierrez, a native of Mexico who looks much younger than 25, not only won his Derby debut but also became the first jockey to win from post 19. I'll Have Another's powerful rally kept Bodemeister from becoming the first Derby winner in 130 years who didn't race as a 2-year-old.
"He is an amazing horse,'' Gutierrez said. "He's such a professional 3-year-old, I told everybody before the first time I rode him that he was the one.''
Of the horses considered the "likeliest" winners, only Bodemeister distinguished himself. Union Rags, the 5-1 second favorite, never threatened and checked in seventh. The speedy Hansen (13-1) was agitated and sweaty in the post parade and never made the lead, finishing ninth. Gemologist, the 8-1 shot trying to become the eighth undefeated Derby winner, retreated to 16th after stalking the pace for 6 furlongs.
Mike Smith sent Bodemeister through a quarter-mile in 22.32 seconds, a half-mile in 45.39 and 6 furlongs in 1:09.80. He is named for trainer Bob Baffert's 7-year-old son, and Baffert loved his performance in his fifth race since his Jan. 16 debut.
"The way he ran today, I don't have any complaints, other than not winning it,'' Baffert said. "He really showed up.''
I'll Have Another was never farther back than seventh, going fast enough to keep tabs on the front-runner and still conserve energy for a winning move. He advanced to fourth, about 3½ lengths back, at the top of the stretch before Gutierrez let him loose.
The chestnut son of Flower Alley ran 1¼ miles in 2:01.83 on a fast track and paid $32.60 for his fourth win in six starts. He's 3-for-3 this year, all with Gutierrez, starting with a 43-1 shocker Feb. 4 in the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, followed by a nose victory over Creative Cause in the Santa Anita Derby. He earned $1,459,600 for owner J. Paul Reddam.
"I just want to remind everybody that this is Cinco de Mayo,'' Reddam said, "and we had the Mexican rider.''
The horse's name has nothing to do with ordering in a bar.
Reddam says it when he wants an extra cookie while watching television with his wife, Zillah.
This Derby field was considered the deepest and most talented in years, and as usual, there were compelling human-interest stories in the most sentiment-drenched of all races. There was Union Rags' 71-year-old owner, wheelchair-bound Phyllis Wyeth, who sold her horse of a lifetime for $145,000, then bought him back for $390,000 six months later because she had seller's remorse. There was Baffert, who had a heart attack March 26 in Dubai and was seeking his fourth Derby win.
Instead, the unlikely heroes were Gutierrez and O'Neill. Gutierrez watched last year's Derby from Hastings Park in British Columbia. O'Neill, a 43-year-old native of Dearborn, Mich., was 0-for-2 in the Derby, finishing 13th and 14th in 2007.
"When somebody asked about winning the Derby, I used Bubba Watson's quote from the Masters: 'I never dreamed that far,' '' O'Neill said. "Now when anybody asks me if I've won it, I can actually say yes.''