There were no Texas-breds or Oklahoma-breds in this year’s Kentucky Derby, but a horse with strong connections to both states make a big late run to nearly run third after a rough start and a Texas-owned runner finished second.
Runner-up Exaggerator has strong connections to the region as he is trained by Louisiana native Keith Desormeaux and his ownership group includes Texans Matt Bryan and Cole, Ron and Cody Ortowski as Rocker O Ranch and Big Chief Racing.
“I didn’t think Exaggerator hit the brakes as much as Kent alluded to,” said Keith, who gave a leg up to his brother Kent to ride the colt. “He burst out of the turn, I thought we had time to catch Nyquist. He had clear running room the entire one-quarter mile stretch. I thought for sure we would catch him. He did kind of level off the last sixteenth of a mile. Maybe he ran out of the training. I didn’t see where Nyquist was during the race until after it was over and he was there right there on the pace. What a horse. I can’t respect that horse enough.”
Exaggerator was the second favorite in the Derby after taking the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and last year winning the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes in Louisiana.
Suddenbreakingnews was fifth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths by the undefeated Nyquist. The 3-year-old started his career at Remington Park in 2015, winning two of five starts in Oklahoma City.
Owned by Sonny Henderson of Odessa, Texas, trained by Donnie Von Hemel of Piedmont, Oklahoma, and ridden by Luis Quinonez of Jones, Oklahoma, Suddenbreakingnews made his usual late rally, moving through tiring traffic in the stretch of the Kentucky Derby. His effort nearly put him into third-place as he was involved in a three-horse photo for the show position, missing third-place and fourth place by just a head and a nose to Gun Runner (3rd) and Mohaymen (4th), respectively.
The effort by Suddenbreakingnews was worth $60,000, making his career earnings $730,032. He has made nine starts, winning three, with four second-place finishes. The Kentucky-bred gelding by Mineshaft from the Afleet Alex mare Uchitel, broke his maiden at Remington Park on Sept. 24, 2015. He then won the $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes on Nov. 6 before running second, beaten a nose, in the $250,000 Springboard Mile on Dec. 13.
Suddenbreakingnews became the first horse since Semoran (1996) to win a race at Remington Park and then eventually start in the Kentucky Derby. Semoran, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, won the Oklahoma Derby before eventually starting in the Kentucky Derby. Suddenbreakingnews is the first horse to break his maiden at Remington Park and then start in the Kentucky Derby.
Suddenbreakingnews won the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. in his 3-year-old debut. After a fifth-place run in the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes, where he encountered traffic issues, Suddenbreakingnews roared around the field in the stretch to gain second in the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby on April 16.
Von Hemel, Remington Park’s all-time leading trainer with 986 wins in Oklahoma City, had his second Kentucky Derby starter in Suddenbreakingnews. His first was the famed Oklahoma-bred millionaire Clever Trevor in 1989, who finished 13th in 1989 behind Sunday Silence.
Quinonez, another Remington Park mainstay, has been the first-call jockey for the Von Hemel barn for a number of years. He has ridden Suddenbreakingnews in all nine of his career starts. This was the first Kentucky Derby for Quinonez.
Trainer Steve Asmussen, a Texas resident and longtime leading conditioner around the region who was just named an inductee in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, saddled third-place finisher Gun Runner.