HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Creator used a strong late kick to pull away and win the Arkansas Derby by 1-1/4 lengths Saturday, giving trainer Steve Asmussen his third victory in the $1 million race.
The colt, who finished third last month in the Rebel Stakes, lagged behind the leaders for much of the 1-1/8-mile race before charging ahead late.
Asmussen is second only to Todd Pletcher's four Arkansas Derby wins among trainers, and the win is his first since Curlin in 2007.
Ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr., Creator paid $25.20, $8.60 and $5, while runner-up Suddenbreakingnews returned $6 and $4 -- with Whitmore returning $3.80 to show.
Despite an overcast sky and light mist that fell at Oaklawn Park into the early afternoon, the track conditions held at fast throughout Saturday's races.
A year after eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah solidified his status as the Kentucky Derby favorite with an eight-length victory in the Arkansas Derby, Creator shocked many in the crowd of 65,000 at Oaklawn Park by overtaking the 12-horse field down the stretch.
Gettysburg was the fastest out of the gate, charging hard to the lead from his far outside post position. The colt remained in front for much of the back stretch, with pre-race favorite and Rebel Stakes winner Cupid staying close on his outside.
While the two horses separated themselves from the trailing pack for much of the race, a large group began to track them down on the final turn.
That's when Creator emerged from the outside with the strongest finishing kick, winning in a time of 1:50 and holding off Suddenbreakingnews -- who won the Southwest Stakes and finished fifth in the Rebel Stakes.
Asmussen's first Arkansas Derby win came in 2002 with Private Emblem, and the victory in the race is the first for Santana.
Creator earned 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for his win, also winning $600,000.
Suddenbreakingnews, trained by Donnie Von Hemel, earned 40 points and $200,000 for finishing second while Whitmore earned 20 points and $100,000.
After going out quickly with Gettysburg, Cupid finished a disappointing 10th.