06/02/2012 12:43PM

England: Camelot gives O'Briens an English Derby victory at Epsom


In all honesty, it appeared all Camelot had to do to win the Epsom Derby was show up and run his race. The competition this year looked weak, Camelot strong. But Camelot did more than merely go through the motions. Rating beautifully near the back of a short field under 19-year-old Joseph O’Brien, Camelot found a gear in the final quarter-mile of the race that none of his eight rivals could dream of hitting, and he powered home to a five-length victory on Saturday, giving Aidan O’Brien his first Derby win in 10 years.

Camelot, 4 for 4 in his career, already has won the English 2000 Guineas, and now he – like I’ll Have Another in the U.S. version – has captured the first two legs of the English Triple Crown. The Coolmore ownership group and O’Brien didn’t immediately quash talk of going for the final leg in the series, though the St. Leger Stakes has lost prominence in recent years. Nijinsky was the last horse to sweep the English Triple Crown, doing so in 1970.

The father-son team of O’Briens became the first such pair to win a Derby, and Joseph rode Camelot with what appeared to be the utmost confidence. Held up second-last for the first mile or so in the race, Camelot let his stablemate Astrology set the pace. Astrology clipped gamely along under Ryan Moore, cutting for home after passing Tattenham Corner and briefly opening a lead of a couple lengths. But O’Brien had wheeled Camelot outside and into action by then, and, finding his best stride in the final three-sixteenths of a mile, Camelot easily ran down Astrology and drew off.

Camelot, a son of Montjeu, was timed in 2:33.90 for 1 1/2 miles on good turf, significantly faster than the 2:34.52 his stablemate St. Nicholas Abbey clocked winning the Group 1 Coronation Cup earlier on the card. Astrology stayed on decently but was nosed out for second by Main Sequence. Thought Worthy, bred and owned by George Strawbridge, finished fourth.

◗ St. Nicholas Abbey, another son of Montjeu owned by Coolmore, trained by Aidan O’Brien, and ridden by Joseph O’Brien, was an equally easy winner of the Coronation Cup, giving him consecutive victories in that prestigious race. Reserved in last, St. Nicholas Abbey stormed to the front a quarter-mile from the finish and won by 4 1/2 lengths despite O’Brien dropping his whip at the furlong grounds. Red Cadeaux finished second, Masked Marvel third.