Golden Soul began the week fortunate to make the field for the Kentucky Derby.
He finished it Saturday with a surprising second-place finish behind Orb at Churchill Downs. The 34-1 shot, ridden by Lafayette’s Robby Albarado, was 2½ lengths behind Orb and 1½ in front of Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary, which went off as the 6-1 second choice.
“He ran terrific,” said New Orleanian Dallas Stewart, Golden Soul’s trainer. “We got beat by a great horse.”
There were locally familiar names in the 4-5-6 spots as well.
Normandy Invasion, Mylute and Oxbow all competed at the Fair Grounds this year.
Mylute, trained by New Orleanian Tom Amoss, had gained considerable attention because he was being ridden by Rosie Napravnik, who was attempting to become the first female jockey to win the race.
Her fifth-place finish was still the best for a woman, besting her ninth-place finish aboard Pants on Fire in 2011.
“I really had a great trip,” Napravnik said. “Tom’s instructions were to just let him fall out of the gate and run like he likes to run. It was exhilarating knowing at the quarter pole knowing that I had a shot.”
But with the exception of Orb, Saturday’s story was Golden Soul.
He had finished fourth in the Louisiana Derby and was 23rd in the new standings system that determined the 20-horse field for the Derby with only a single maiden victory to his credit. But when three horses ahead of him withdrew, Stewart and owner Charles E. Fipke decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
It also was a day of opportunity for Albarado, whose career was nearly derailed during Derby Week 2012 when he was arrested for the second time on assault charges, this time against a former girlfriend.
Albarado avoided suspension from riding in Kentucky, but the one-time top-10 jockey had seen his status decline. Stewart chose Albarado for Golden Soul just before Wednesday’s post position draw.
“I’m just thankful,” said Albarado, whose best previous Derby finish in eight starts was third with Steppenwolfen in 2006 and Curlin in ’07. “It’s amazing.”
Albarado stayed close on the rail near Revolutionary and fellow Louisianan Calvin Borel for most of the race, moving outside enough to pass Normandy Invasion and Mylute in the final 1/16 while holding off Revolutionary.
“I thought we had a chance heading for home,” Albarado said. “I was comfortable with the pace, and I got a great inside trip.”
With his third Derby horse and first since 2001, Stewart praised Albarado’s effort.
“He vindicated himself,” Stewart said. “He’ just a great rider and he give this horse a great ride.”
Golden Soul paid $38.60 and $19.40. Stewart didn’t say whether the horse will challenge Orb in the Preakness.
Borel, who was seeking his fourth Derby win, stayed on the rail, as he usually does.
“The only thing I could have done on the far turn was creep up closer on him,” said Borel, who had ridden Golden Soul in the Louisiana Derby. “Turning for home, I still thought we had a shot to win, but he gave me a good turn of foot.”
Amoss said Mylute ran a good race.
“In a 19-horse field, there’s going to be traffic,” he said. “I thought Rosie rode him correctly.
“Unfortunately, he had a wide trip, but Rosie gave him the best chance to win.”