Mendelssohn last in Kentucky Derby as Justify shines in the rain at Churchill Downs

Rough start does Aidan O’Brien star no favours

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Mendelssohn was a huge disappointment in the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby with Justify powering to victory at a rain-lashed Churchill Downs.

Much had been expected of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mendelssohn in the wake of his sensational victory in the UAE Derby at Meydan, but he was done no favours when knocked sideways on leaving stall 14 and the writing was on the wall from some way out.

As Ryan Moore pushed in vain approaching the home turn, up front the favourite Justify kicked off the bend and Bob Baffert’s charge – who was unraced as a two-year-old – never looked like being caught.

Good Magic gave chase to the Mike Smith-ridden winner but to no avail, with Audible in third.

When his chance had gone, Moore allowed Mendelssohn to come home in his own time, eventually finishing last.

Winning the race for the fifth time, Baffert told NBC Sports: “When he got away clean, I felt we had a chance. I knew there was going to be a hot pace, but he was doing it easily.

“Him and American Pharoah and Arrogate – these horses are cut from a different cloth. They are so great and it took a great horse to do what he did today.

“I rank him up there with my top ones. When he broke his maiden, we knew we had something special.

“I’m glad it’s over. This track really had me worried, I was nervous all day.”

Mendelssohn’s eclipse means the wait for a European-trained winner of the ‘Run for the Roses’ goes on, with the second place achieved by Clive Brittain’s Bold Arrangement in 1986 remaining the best finish to date.

Mendelssohn last in Kentucky Derby as Justify shines in the rain at Churchill Downs
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