Kentucky Derby Winner Orb. Photo courtesy
Kentucky Derby Winner Orb. Photo courtesy

As everyone knows by now, Dinny Phipps and Stuart Janney’s horse Orb won the Kentucky Derby last weekend.

We asked Stuart’s wife Lynn to share with us the experience of winning the first jewel of the Triple Crown and how the family is feeling about the Kentucky Derby Champion’s chances in the Preakness next weekend.

The Janneys live in Butler, where they raised their two children, Matt and Emily.

All of Maryland is rooting for you, Orb!

Orb had been named the favorite by several organizations, but how confident did you feel that he would win?
I think we were all very confident about Orb before the race, though in horse racing nothing is guaranteed. Shug McGaughey, the trainer, never overstates anything and so when he felt good about Orb, we did too. The rain put a question mark next to him, but his breeding says he should not mind a sloppy track. And he didn’t.

Give us the play-by-play of watching the race, the mood when Orb started storming ahead and the moment when you realized Orb would be victorious. What was your reaction: more stunned, silent disbelief or more hooting and hollering? What was Stuart’s? 

The rain made all the exposed seating unusable, so we were all huddled under cover in the stands, very tense. Waiting for the race to start is torturous. Every minute seems like an hour,  but eventually they are in the gate. I have relived this race so many times I think I only see it in slow motion. At the start we were all extremely quiet, and then after the first turn Stuart commented the pace is very fast. We were still quiet and not concerned when we saw him fifteenth on the backstretch, just gripping the rail. And then he started to make his move. Still no noise from us. It was only on the last turn when he kicked in that we were free to start yelling. The sound of the crowd at the Derby, Preakness and Belmont — any very big race — can be deafening. But when you have a horse in the race you don’t hear it. We were only hearing each other screaming his name.

When he crossed the finish line I felt numb. Then Stuart and I hugged and looked at each other in utter disbelief. We hugged our children and just started smiling. At that point  my body started to shake and tears came. We were ushered to the winner’s circle, though I do not remember getting there. It is a bit of a blur after that. I only remember nearly losing my shoes when we crossed the muddy track.
Who was with you as your watched the race? Were you able to share the victory with Matt and Emily?
Our daughter, Emily and her husband, Nick, and our son, Matt were with us. Because we co-own the horse with Stuart’s cousin, Dinny Phipps, his wife and children and grandchildren were also there. It was a lovely family affair. When we were all celebrating afterward it felt like a holiday celebration or a family reunion. It was the best.
What do you think of the bruhaha? Have you been deluged with media attention?  Has the paparazzi been stalking you? 
I can’t believe all the attention, though I have have not faced what Stuart has faced. His secretary says she has never seen a week like this between all the reporters and camera crews, doing 12 interviews in one day alone.  Stuart and I have both been overwhelmed by the number of texts and emails, phone calls and letters. Yes, people still write letters. To me one of the happy consequences of this is seeing the fun our friends and people we don’t even know having with this win. It is terrific that there may be increased interest in the Preakness because of the Maryland connection.
How are you feeling about the Preakness? Confident? Nervous? Calm? 
As for the Preakness, we feel good, but again we never think anything is a sure thing. Orb came back fine. He continues to work well. His maturity has steadily gone in one direction which is what you want at this stage in his career. That’s not to say that we won’t be nervous before the race. We tend to get distracted and you might find one of us putting the milk in the closet instead of the refrigerator. But our family will be together again so that is nice a benefit of Orb’s success.
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Susan Dunn

Susan Gerardo Dunn is the founding editor and publisher of Baltimore Fishbowl.