The rain that pelted the track earlier in the day had stopped by the time 19 horses paraded to the post for the 139th Derby. While it created a gloppy surface, it didn't seem to bother Orb, who had never previously run on a wet track.
"I said, 'A day like today might have cost me one Kentucky Derby, maybe it'll turn around and help us today," McGaughey said.
His triumph was a victory for the old school of racing, where a private trainer like McGaughey works exclusively for wealthy owners — in this case Stuart Janney and Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps.
"The Phippses and Janneys has been my whole life for 20 some years now, and have really kind of given me everything I've got," said McGaughey, who never lost his thick Southern drawl despite years of working in New York.
"I'm extremely proud to be able to work with people such as this. To bring a day like today into their lives is just a huge, huge thrill for me. All I can do is just say thanks for the opportunity," he said.
First cousins Janney and 72-year-old Dinny Phipps, who are among the sport's blue bloods that include the old-money Whitney and Vanderbilt families, also got their first gold Derby trophy.
"I just couldn't be more delighted that we're doing this together," the 64-year-old Janney said.
Phipps' late father, Ogden, owned Easy Goer and undefeated Personal Ensign. Janney's parents owned star filly Ruffian.
"This horse's bloodline goes back to our grandmother," Janney said. "Dinny's father was very instrumental in getting me to take over my parents' horses 20 some years ago."
When the horses burst from the gates, Palace Malice and Mike Smith set a sizzling pace that couldn't be sustained.