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Jerry & Suzee Bailey

Congrats to all of the Winners,…

and all of the  Participants

that helped to make this a

 Derby Weekend to Remember!

Kentucky Derby: Rich Strike, 80-1, hits the big one

Jay PrivmanMay 07, 2022

Rich Strike wins the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Barbara D. LivingstonRich Strike and jockey Sonny Leon finish fastest of all to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Trained by Eric Reed, Rich Strike paid $163.60 to win, the second biggest win payout in race history.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It’s hard to get about 150,000 people to go from a full-throated roar to library-like quiet. But for a smattering of those who perhaps play blackjack and like the number 21, or, especially, those connected with a heretofore unknown colt named Rich Strike, Churchill Downs, back with a full house after two years of racing under restrictions, fell into mostly stunned silence following the 148th Kentucky Derby on Saturday. A return to normal? Not on the racetrack.

Rich Strike, fortunate to even draw into the race on Friday after being stuck on the also-eligible list after the post draw Monday, pulled off the second-biggest upset in the race’s history, rallying from 18th with three furlongs to go with an electrifying closing kick that carried him past favored Epicenter and highly regarded Zandon in the closing yards.

The 80-1 upset, before a crowd of 147,294, made instant stars of trainer Eric Reed, who has been plying his trade since 1985 and never had had a Derby starter; owner Rick Dawson, an Oklahoma-based businessman who nearly quit the sport before connecting with Reed; and jockey Sonny Leon, a native of Venezuela who rides regularly in Ohio and also was competing in the Derby for the first time. It was reminiscent of the upset of late-running Mine That Bird in 2009, but that horse had Derby regular Calvin Borel aboard, and was a quaint 50-1. This was even more improbable.

In seven prior starts, Rich Strike owned one win, in a maiden claimer last September at Churchill Downs, from which Reed and Dawson claimed him for $30,000 off trainer Joe Sharp. Rich Strike had lost five straight since then, including in four straight stakes races. He was fifth, beaten 14 lengths by Epicenter, in the Gun Runner at Fair Grounds in December. He then made three straight starts on the all-weather surface at Turfway Park, most recently finishing third behind Derby longshots Tiz the Bomb and Tawny Port in the Jeff Ruby.

When 22 horses were entered in the Derby on Monday, Rich Strike was 21st on the points list, and thus was placed on the also-eligible list, assigned number 21. He didn’t get in until scratch time Friday morning, when trainer D. Wayne Lukas decided to withdraw Ethereal Road. If that doesn’t happen, Rich Strike doesn’t run in the Derby.

Run he did. Despite starting from the outside post in the field of 20, Rich Strike got a gorgeous trip under Leon, their quest aided by a radioactive pace – including the fastest opening quarter in the race’s history — that set it up for a late runner. Moments after the race, the tote board lit up like a Christmas tree. Rich Strike paid $163.60 to win, second only to the $184.90 that Donerail paid in 1913. The $2 exacta of Rich Strike over Epicenter, the 4-1 favorite, paid $4,101.20. The 50-cent trifecta of Rich Strike over Epicenter over Zandon, the 6-1 third choice, paid $7,435.35. And the $1 superfecta, with 35-1 shot Simplification fourth, paid $321,500.10.

“I fell down when they hit the wire,” Reed said. “This is why everybody does this.”

Reed, 57, has had to build his business back up following a tragic barn fire in December 2016 at the Mercury Equine Center, in Lexington, Ky., that claimed 23 of his horses.

Dawson has been one of his loyal supporters in recent years.

“He’s the reason I’m in the business,” Dawson said. “I was ready to get out. I was disenchanted.”

Dawson said that after being introduced to Reed by a mutual friend, he decided: “I like this guy. I’m going to give it another shot.”

“This is the most unbelievable day ever,” Dawson said.

Reed, who has trained 1,444 winners, had one previous graded stakes winner, which is one more than Leon, 32, who has won 769 races in this country since arriving from Venezuela in 2015. He rides regularly at Mahoning Valley and Belterra Park, owning riding titles at both. On Friday, Leon warmed up for his big Derby Day by riding five horses at Belterra, none of whom won. Rich Strike was his only mount Saturday.

Among riders in North America, Leon finished 11th in wins last year with 226. Joel Rosario, who rode Epicenter, finished 10th with 228 winners. Rosario’s mounts last year earned $32,956,215, and he won the Eclipse Award. Leon’s mounts earned $3,736,558.

On Saturday, Leon beat Rosario and 18 other riders with a ride that looked like he’d been competing in the Derby his whole life.

“Sonny got us here,” Reed said. “He knows the horse.”

Leon was able to angle over coming through the lane the first time as Summer Is Tomorrow and, improbably, the Japanese invader Crown Pride set off at a blistering pace, 21.78 seconds for the opening quarter, the fastest in the race’s history.

That pace was relentless. Summer Is Tomorrow continued to lead narrowly after a half in 45.36 seconds. He began his retreat before reaching the half-mile pole, at which point Messier poked his head in front. Epicenter, wisely rated behind that early pace, advanced from eighth a half-mile into the race and hit the front with a quarter-mile remaining. Messier and Crown Pride were beginning to backpedal, and then Zandon, who had waited briefly in traffic while following Epicenter on the far turn, swung out and went on the attack.

Epicenter and Zandon edged away from their rivals in upper stretch, and with a furlong remaining Epicenter led by a length, with Zandon trying to close the gap.

Farther back, Rich Strike was rolling. After getting to the two path around the first turn, he raced outside Mo Donegal down the backside, but was still in front of only two horses with three furlongs to go. Rich Strike followed Taiba initially on the far turn while in the three path, and then Leon ducked him to the inside nearing the quarter pole.

Rich Strike was motoring. He had to come around a tiring Messier at midstretch, then closed fastest of all and went by Epicenter so quickly that Epicenter seemed to duck out, as though he was startled that a horse was coming by him that quickly. Rich Strike continued to gallop out like a wild horse.

“He didn’t want to stop,” Leon said. “Tough horse.”

Rich Strike won by three-quarters of a length, with Epicenter three-quarters of a length in front of Zandon.

Simplification was fourth and was followed, in order, by Mo Donegal, Barber Road, Tawny Port, Smile Happy, Tiz the Bomb, Zozos, Classic Causeway, Taiba, Crown Pride, Happy Jack, Messier, White Abarrio, Charge It, Cyberknife, Pioneer of Medina, and Summer Is Tomorrow.

Ethereal Road and the also-eligible Rattle N Roll were the scratches from the 22 entered Monday.

Rich Strike covered 1 1/4 miles on the fast main track in 2:02.61. He earned $1.86 million from an overall race purse of $3 million, and received a Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

Rich Strike is a colt by Keen Ice out of the Smart Strike mare Gold Strike. He was bred by historic Calumet Farm, which now has bred a record 10 Derby winners, though this was the first since Strike the Gold in 1991, and the first since Brad Kelley has owned the farm, which in its glory years of the 1940s and 1950s was owned by the Markey family.

Calumet’s connection was the only seemingly normal aspect to this Derby, the first since 2019 to be run without restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the result, like when Mine That Bird won, resonates through the sport. All anyone who owns, trains, or rides wants is a chance. Rich Strike, Reed, Dawson, and Leon all got that chance, barely, and they made the most of it.

– additional reporting by Nicole Russo

The order of finish for the 148th Kentucky Derby

at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky:

1. Rich Strike

2. Epicenter

3. Zandon

4. Simplification

5. Mo Donegal

6. Barber Road

7. Tawny Port

8. Smile Happy

9. Tiz the Bomb

10. Zozos

11. Classic Causeway

12. Taiba

13. Crown Pride

14. Happy Jack

15. Messier

16. White Abarrio

17. Charge It

18. Cyberknife

19. Pioneer of Medina

20. Summer Is Tomorrow


It’s Post Time!


“Table of Discussion,” with

Hall of Fame Jockey Jerry Bailey,

who will share his favorites picks for

the Kentucky Oaks and the “Run For the Roses”…

 Thoroughbred Horse Racing’s most exciting 2 minutes in sports!

There are few American sporting events with the history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby.

 Sipping a mint julep, donning a beautiful hat, and

singing “My Old Kentucky Home” all  transcend  the rich tradition of this exciting event.

 The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States,

dating back to 1875 and one of the most prestigious thoroughbred horseraces in the world!

It’s your winning ticket to a thrilling day of beauty and prestigious competition! 

Visit Jerry or Suzee on Twitter or Facebook!




or e-mail us at:

We look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Strike headed to Preakness, but much of Derby field won’t join him

Jay PrivmanMay 08, 2022

Sonny Leon reacts as Rich Strike wins the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Barbara D. LivingstonJockey Sonny Leon reacts as

Rich Strike wins the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Rich Strike, the improbable winner of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, headed home to Lexington on Sunday from Churchill Downs, and will spend a bit more than a week at trainer Eric Reed’s private training center, Mercury Equine, before embarking on the next step of his journey, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 21.

Even though Rich Strike was an 80-1 shot, it appears only a handful of the 19 horses he beat on Saturday will take him on in the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown. As of Sunday, most of the prospective Preakness field consisted of horses who were not in the Derby, the most notable being the filly Secret Oath, winner of the Kentucky Oaks on Friday.

Reed on Sunday morning was still adjusting to the reality of having won the Derby. When officials of the Derby Museum, located on the grounds of Churchill Downs, paid him a visit seeking artifacts related to Rich Strike, Reed said, “I didn’t even think about that.”

Rich Strike did not get into the Derby until the last possible moment, when Ethereal Road was scratched on Friday morning. Only minutes before that happened, Reed had been told there were no scratches from the Derby, and in fact the security officer assigned to Rich Strike was told to leave. Reed was planning on going to the Peter Pan at Belmont, to be run this Saturday, if Rich Strike didn’t get in. “I knew that was what was probably going to happen,” he said. “I told my guys not to pout.”

But soon thereafter, he received word that trainer D. Wayne Lukas had in fact scratched Ethereal Road, which got Rich Strike in from the also-eligible list.

Lukas on Sunday morning joked, “I want my 10 percent” from Rich Strike’s connections.

Reed watched the race on the giant screen above the paddock. He has a bad back, and said it gave out in the closing yards, causing him to fall.

“I never saw my horse cross the finish line,” he said. “And then the guys were jumping on top of me. I was telling them, ‘My back, my back.’ ”

Of the 19 horses who were defeated by Rich Strike in the Derby, the only one absolutely committed to the Preakness on Sunday was Simplification, who finished fourth. His trainer, Antonio Sano, said Simplification was to head to Baltimore on Monday, less than 48 hours after the Derby.

Steve Asmussen, who trains Derby runner-up Epicenter, said he would make a decision after conferring with owner Ron Winchell, but said Epicenter “came out of the race really good.” Asmussen said Epicenter would go back to the track to train on Wednesday.

“I’m proud of who he is,” Asmussen said. “The focus now is how he becomes the 3-year-old champion.”

Zandon, who finished third, remains a possibility for the Preakness, but if ranking the likelihood of running, Zandon’s chances seem below that of Epicenter.

Chad Brown, who trains Zandon, will run Wood Memorial runner-up Early Voting. Jose Ortiz has the call on Early Voting, meaning Simplification – whom Ortiz rode in the Derby – will need a new rider for the Preakness.

But the most intriguing prospect for the Preakness would be Secret Oath. Lukas said he would speak to owners Robert and Stacy Mitchell, but said he was happy with how Secret Oath had come out of the Oaks. He said he would walk her three to four days post-race before returning to the track to train.

Lukas also said he’d consider running Ethereal Road if he bounces back well after a couple of unsatisfactory training sessions late last week, but said he “doesn’t want to run those two against each other.”

Kenny McPeek has three runners under consideration for the Preakness, including Smile Happy, who was eighth in the Derby. He also has Rattle N Roll, who was the second also-eligible for the Derby and did not get in, and Creative Minister, an impressive allowance winner at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Not all three are expected to run, but McPeek could have at least one starter, if not two. Tiz the Bomb, ninth in the Derby for McPeek, will not run in the Preakness.

Un Ojo, who missed the Derby owing to a foot bruise, has recovered sufficiently and is a certain starter in the Preakness barring another unforeseen setback.

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. is not going on to the Preakness with White Abarrio, who finished 16th after being caught very wide throughout, but he will run Skippylongstocking, most recently third in the Wood Memorial. Junior Alvarado has the mount on Skippylongstocking, Joseph said.

Among the other Derby runners, Todd Pletcher said his trio of Mo Donegal (fifth), Charge It (17th), and Pioneer of Medina (19th) all will skip the Preakness. He said Mo Donegal was likely for the Belmont, the final leg of the Triple Crown, on June 11.

Brad Cox said his three Derby runners – Tawny Port (seventh), Zozos (10th), and Cyberknife (18th) – also would skip the Preakness, and perhaps the Belmont, too. He said Cyberknife’s next main goal would be the Haskell, with a possible prep in the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs.

Barber Road (sixth) will skip the Preakness but run in the Belmont, trainer John Ortiz said. Happy Jack (14th) also will go to the Belmont after bypassing the Preakness, trainer Doug O’Neill said.

Taiba (12th) will re-group, as will Classic Causeway (11th). Crown Pride (13th) is returning to Japan, and Summer Is Tomorrow (20th) is going back to the United Arab Emirates. Plans have yet to be determined for Messier (15th), trainer Tim Yakteen said Sunday.

— additional reporting by David Grening, Nicole Russo, and Mike Welsch

Kentucky Oaks gets full gate filled with talent

David GreningMay 02, 2022


Echo Zulu works at Churchill Downs 5-1-2022

Debra A. RomaEcho Zulu, training at Churchill on Sunday, is an undefeated champion, yet is the 4-1 third choice on the Kentucky Oaks morning line.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 15-horse field drawn Monday for Friday’s $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs has combined to win 23 stakes – 16 of which are graded – and includes three undefeated horses, one of whom is a champion.

“In a normal year I would be really confident, but this may be the best Oaks that I’ve seen,” said 86-year-old trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Oaks winner who this year sends out Secret Oath, a winner of two graded stakes. “I don’t know that I’ve seen a deeper, stronger Oaks.”

To that point, Echo Zulu, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly who has won all five of her starts including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, was made the 4-1 third choice in the morning-line after drawing post 7 in a field limited to 14 starters.

“Her 2-year-old form isn’t going to win Grade 1 3-year-old races,” said Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Echo Zulu. “She’ll have to improve considerably from the Fair Grounds Oaks to the Kentucky Oaks. She has a chance to.”

Echo Zulu won the Fair Grounds Oaks by nose over the late-running Hidden Connection, who is in this race and drew post 3 for trainer Bret Calhoun.

Nest, winner of four of five starts including the Grade 1 Ashland, was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite. She drew post 4 and will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.

“We wanted to be somewhere in the middle,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “That’s close enough.”

Nest, a daughter of Curlin, is one of three horses entered by Pletcher, who has won this race four times including last year with Malathaat. Pletcher also sends out Goddess of Fire and Shahama.

Shahama, an undefeated daughter of Munnings, will be making her first start for Pletcher. She won all of her starts in Dubai, including the UAE Oaks, for trainer Fawzi Nass.

“You have to respect the fact she’s undefeated,” Pletcher said. “The competition is probably not as good as what she’s facing here. Still, to be able to win four in a row is hard to do.”

Kathleen O., the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, is also 4 for 4, including victories in the Davona Dale and Gulfstream Park Oaks. Her trainer, Shug McGaughey, won the 1993 Kentucky Oaks with Dispute but hasn’t run in it since Yell finished third in 2003.

Kathleen O., a closer, will break from post 10 under Javier Castellano.

“I thought it was a good post – speed on the inside of her,” McGaughey said. “Even if she doesn’t break that well, it’s not going to matter. The way she broke at Gulfstream, I think she’ll break good and put herself in a position. It’s up to Javier from there and see if she’s good enough.”

The field, with riders, from the rail out is, Secret Oath (Luis Saez), Nostalgic (Jose Ortiz), Hidden Connection (Reylu Gutierrez), Nest (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Goddess of Fire (John Velazquez), Yuugiri (Florent Geroux), Echo Zulu (Joel Rosario), Venti Valentine (Tyler Gaffalione), Desert Dawn (Umberto Rispoli), Kathleen O. (Javier Castellano), Cocktail Moments (Corey Lanerie), Candy Raid (Rafael Bejarano), Shahama (Flavien Prat) and Turnerloose (Manny Franco).

Beguine, beaten a neck by Yuugiri in the Grade 3 Fantasy, is on the also-eligible list. She would need a scratch between now and 9 a.m. Friday in order to run.

“I want to run,” trainer Danny Peitz said. “I’m not going to be crazy about being in the 14-hole if I draw in, but maybe she’s going to like an outside draw. I know she’s going to have to step up a little bit, but I have some question marks about some of the favorites.”

The Kentucky Oaks will go as race 11 on a 13-race card that begins at 10:30 a.m. Post time for the Oaks is approximately 5:51 p.m.


Kentucky Derby: Favorite Zandon draws post 10, Epicenter in post 3

Jay PrivmanMay 02, 2022

Zandon trains at Churchill Downs on April 29

Barbara D. LivingstonZandon will start from post 10 in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.Go to PPs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Zandon drew post 10 and was made the 3-1 morning-line favorite, and Epicenter landed post 3 and was installed the second choice at 7-2, as a full field of 20, plus two also-eligibles, had posts assigned Monday afternoon at Churchill Downs for the 148th Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Both Zandon, the Blue Grass Stakes winner, and Epicenter, the Louisiana Derby winner, had separated themselves from their rivals in public sentiment over the past few weeks. Mike Battaglia, who makes the line at Churchill Downs, ended up siding ever so slightly with Zandon, mirroring Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee, who has had Zandon atop the since the Blue Grass and made him the 4-1 favorite, with Epicenter next at 5-1.

Chad Brown, who trains the late-running Zandon, called 10 a “really good post” for his colt and jockey Flavien Prat.

“It gives my jockey options,” Brown said. “But the horse still needs to break. There’s some speed inside, and some speed outside.”

Epicenter, who is always forwardly placed, will have to leave alertly under Joel Rosario from an inside draw. His trainer, Steve Asmussen, said he’d have “felt better in the middle,” but pointed out that any post can cause problems depending not only on how a horse breaks, but the behavior of those in adjacent stalls.

“You don’t know what posts to complain about until after the race is run,” he said.

What Asmussen said will be paramount is Epicenter getting away well enough to settle into the high-cruising rhythm that propelled him to victories in both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby.

Messier is the third choice on Battaglia’s line, at 8-1, with Mo Donegal and White Abarrio the co-fourth choices at 10-1. McGee also has Messier the third choice at 8-1, with Mo Donegal, Taiba, and White Abarrio all at 10-1.

The 20 horses in recent years have been loaded in a single gate, replacing a system where a main gate of 14 stalls, and an auxiliary gate of an additional six stalls, was used. The width of the old configuration often made it challenging for horses inside, something trainer Todd Pletcher referenced owing to his Mo Donegal landing the rail with Irad Ortiz Jr.

“If you break and you run straight you’re okay,” Pletcher said. “You’d run into the rail if you went straight with the old gate system.”

Mo Donegal broke from the inside and came running late to win the Wood Memorial in his last start.

“He’s the type of horse that could potentially benefit from an inside draw,” Pletcher said. “He took the kickback in the Wood. It didn’t faze him.”

Pletcher has two other entrants – Charge It, who got post 8, and Pioneer of Medina, who is in post 11.

Brad Cox also has three entrants, and they all are toward the outside. His best chance, Cyberknife, is in post 16, with Tawny Port in 18 and Zozos 19.

“I like it,” Cox said of Cyberknife’s draw. “He shouldn’t have to stand in the gate long.”

The Derby is double loaded, with posts 1 and 11 going in first, and horses paired until 10 and 20 are the last to load.

Kenny McPeek has two entrants. Smile Happy got post 5, Tiz the Bomb 9.

Tim Yakteen’s two entrants, Messier and Taiba, got posts 6 and 12, respectively. Both should be forwardly placed.

Also figuring to be prominent early, if not vying for the lead, are Classic Causeway, who goes from post 17, and Summer Is Tomorrow, who starts from post 4, just outside Epicenter.

Rich Strike and Rattle N Roll are on the also-eligible list, in that order. They have until 9 a.m. Friday to scratch in.

The Derby will be race 12 on a 14-race card that begins at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. The listed post time is 6:57 p.m.


Jerry’s Favorites!                            

 This year’s Kentucky Oaks shapes up to be a really good one.  We have the two year old Breeders Cup Juvenile and champion filly Echo Zulu, the Ashland stakes winner Nest,  and the Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Kathleen O.  All three are trained by Hall of Famers, and  have completely different styles of running and winning.  Echo Zulu uses here speed to run her competition off their feet and has won all of her five starts that way.  Nest, who has only been beaten once in her five races, is more of a stalker.  She gets good early position behind the speed horses,  but in front of the closers,… and the undefeated Kathleen O is a dead closer coming from last in most of her races.


2-Kathleen O

3-Echo Zulu


Suzee’s Picks! 😉


2-Secret Oath





Jerry’s Favorites! 

This year’s Derby seem to boil down to four really strong contenders with another several horses with a chance if things go their way .

Zandon, who won the Bluegrass stakes a month ago at Keeneland race track with a strong closing kick in the stretch is the morning line favorite. He gets the award for best looking here at Churchill Downs this week in the morning training.  He drew post 10 of 20 which is not bad for his running style.  Zandon will drop back to mid pack early and look for jockey Flavien Prat to get him running going into the far turn.  Of course with any horse that comes from behind, traffic can be an issue so he will need some racing luck.

 Epicenter, who was the early favorite until recently also has an outstanding chance.  Earlier this spring he typically used his early speed to win leading from gate to wire , but in his most recent  win, the Louisiana Derby, his jockey Joel Rosario changed things up a little and had him relaxing just behind the pace setters until the top of the stretch,  then blew the competition away in the stretch…so his versatility could come in handy should the situation call for it in the Derby.  Epicenter’s  trainer, Steve Asmussen, who has over 9400 wins, is in the Hall of Fame, and has won almost every major race in the country, as well as many around the world, but is 0-24 in the Kentucky Derby.  This race is really important to complete his resume.

Now we come to the two California horses, Messier and Taiba who were trained by Bob Baffert until about 6 weeks ago, but now are trained by Tim Yakteen. Messier was the three year old leader for much of the spring until he was defeated by stablemate Taiba in the Santa Anita Derby.  Taiba has only run twice in his life, both winning efforts, but no horse with this few races has won the Derby since Leonatus did it in 1882.  Both Messier and Taiba have tactical speed and have won both leading and from just off the early pace.






Suzee’s Picks! 😉




4-Crown Pride

Kentucky Derby History

There are few American sporting events with the history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby. It’s rich traditions – sipping a mint julep, donning a beautiful hat, and joining fellow race fans in singing “My Old Kentucky Home” – transcend the Kentucky Derby from just a sporting event, making it a celebration of southern culture and a true icon of Americana. The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875.  The race is often referred to as “The Run for the Roses®” and  has continuously produced “the most exciting two minutes in sports”; uninterrupted, even when coinciding with profound historical events like The Great Depression and World Wars I & II.

The Kentucky Derby’s long history began in 1872, when Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of William Clark – of the famed pair Lewis and Clark – traveled to Europe. While there, Clark attended the Epsom Derby in England, a well-known horse race run since 1780, and also fraternized with the French Jockey Club, a group that developed another popular horse race, the Grand Prix de Paris Longchamps. Clark was inspired by his travels and experiences, and, upon his return, was determined to create a spectacle horse racing event in the States. With the help of his uncle’s John & Henry Churchill, who gifted Clark the necessary land to develop a racetrack, and by formally organizing a group of local race fans to be named the Louisville Jockey Club, Clark and his new club raised funds to build a permanent racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. On May 17th, 1875, the racetrack opened its gates and the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the very first Kentucky Derby. A total of fifteen three-year-old Thoroughbred horses raced one and a half miles in front of a cheering crowd of approximately 10,000 spectators. Aristides was the first winner of the Kentucky Derby.

As with any major event, the Kentucky Derby has undergone various changes over the course of three centuries. From shortening the distance of the race, the introduction of traditions like draping the winning horse in a garland of roses, to the growing size of Derby crowds, the Kentucky Derby has embraced the change of time, while honoring the integrity of the spectacle race set forth by Meriwether Lewis Clark. Follow the timeline below to see just how far the Kentucky Derby has come since 1875. You’ll learn about special events in the history of the Kentucky Derby, like legendary horse performances, record-setting race facts and significant changes in the celebration of the Kentucky Derby.

1874 – Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark forms the Louisville Jockey Club and acquires land for racetrack from his uncles John & Henry Churchill.

1875 – The first Kentucky Derby race takes place on May 17th. Aristides races 1.5 miles to win, in a field of fifteen horses, in front of a crowd of 10,000 spectators.

1883 – Leonatus wins the Derby, and the name “Churchill Downs” is first used to landmark the racetrack that is the home of the Kentucky Derby.

1889 – Bookmakers demand that Colonel Clark remove pari-mutuel betting machines, because they are cutting into the bookmakers profits. Spokane wins the Derby.

1894 – Due to the growing crowd size, a 285-foot grandstand is constructed to accommodate race fans. Chant wins the Derby.

1895 – The famed Twin Spires greet the Kentucky Derby crowd, on May 6th. Halma wins the Derby.

1896 – It is thought that the distance of the Derby race is too long for three year old Thoroughbreds that early in the spring, so the distance of the Derby race is shortened from one and a half miles to one and a quarter miles. Ben Brush wins the Derby, and he receives a floral arrangement of white and pink roses.

1899 – Founder of the Kentucky Derby, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, commits suicide on April 22, 1899, just twelve days before the 25th running of the Kentucky Derby, where Manuel wins.

1903 – Now under the leadership of Colonel Matt J. Winn, the racetrack celebrates its first profit after the Kentucky Derby on May 2nd where Judge Himes wins the race.

1904 – The red rose becomes the official flower of the Kentucky Derby and Elwood wins the race.

1908 – The use of pari-mutuel wagering machines is restored, and bookmakers are outlawed. The Derby day crowd bets a total of $67,570 of which $18,300 is placed on the Derby race alone. Stone Street wins the Derby.

1911 – The minimum bet is reduced from $5 to $2, and a betting booth is introduced. Two men are stationed in a booth to receive fans’ bets – one sells the wagering ticket, and the other operates a clicker to account for the number of tickets sold. Meridian wins the Derby.

1913 – The fees to enter a horse in the Derby and the Derby winning prize money are restructured. The new charges are $25 to nominate a horse for the Kentucky Derby and $100 for the horse to actually run in the race. With those collected fees, plus Churchill Downs adding $5,000 to the purse, the winning horse receives $5,475. Donerail wins the Derby, and becomes the longest shot to win. He pays $184.90 to win bets, $41.20 to place bets, and $13.20 to show bets.

1914 – Old Rosebud wins the Derby and sets a new track record, finishing the race in 2:03:04 and eight lengths ahead of the second place finisher.

1915 – For the third consecutive year, the Kentucky Derby splashes the news, as the first filly, Regret, wins the race. This publicity establishes the Kentucky Derby as a premier sporting event in America, after its 41st running.

1919 – Sir Barton wins the Derby and is also the first winner of what would become the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. In the span of just 32 days, Sir Barton won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, the Withers Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.

1922 – Mor Vich wins the Derby and, in addition to the winning purse, he receives a gold buffet service piece including a cup and candlesticks. The prize is valued at $7,000 and is the first Derby presentation of its kind. 1924 – Black Gold wins the 50th running of the Kentucky Derby, and he receives a trophy, exactly like the one presented today.

1925 – The first network radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby takes place on May 16th, with about 5 to 6 million listeners tuning in to hear Flying Ebony win the Derby. Also, notable in the year, the phrase “Run for the Roses®” is coined by Bill Corum, a sports columnist for the New York Evening Journal and the New York Journal – American.

1930 – Gallant Fox wins the Derby, and the term Triple Crown is officially used by the New York Times to describe his combined wins in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.

1931 – The Kentucky Derby is permanently scheduled for the first Saturday in May, as opposed to an undetermined date in mid-May. The move was largely due to the popularity of the idea of a Triple Crown winner, and allowed for a consistent racing schedule for horses that would participate in the three races – The Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness Stakes, followed by the Belmont Stakes.

1932 – Despite the Great Depression, the Kentucky Derby race continues to take place and has much to celebrate. The race is internationally broadcast, reaching England’s British Broadcasting Company, and the winner, Burgoo King, is the first Kentucky Derby winner to be draped in a garland of red roses.

1938 – A tunnel is constructed under the racetrack that connects the grandstand, spectator seats to the field inside the racetrack, called the “infield”. Admission is 50 cents to enjoy the Derby from the infield. Lawrin wins the Derby and he is the first to take to a stand built in the infield for the official presentation to the Kentucky Derby winning horse.

1943 – Regardless of the war-time travel restrictions from World War II and no out-of-town tickets sold to the Kentucky Derby, 65,000 fans gather at Churchill Downs to see Count Fleet easily defeat the field at 2-5 odds.

1949 – The 75th Kentucky Derby is locally telecast for the first time, and Ponder wins the Derby.

1952 – The public exposure of the Kentucky Derby is expanded with the first national live television coverage in its history. An estimated 10 to 15 million viewers tune in to watch Hill Gale win the Derby.

1954 – The Kentucky Derby winning purse exceeds $100,000, and Determine is the horse to cash in.

1966 – The famed “Millionaires Row” dining room is introduced, and Kauai King wins the Derby.

1968 – Dancer’s Image is the first Derby winner to be disqualified. Following the race, Dancer’s Image tested positive for an illegal medication, so the purse is taken from him, and awarded to the second-place finisher Forward Pass, who is declared the winner.

1970 – Diane Crump is the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby race. Crump finished 15th out of 18 horses in the field; and even though her Derby race wasn’t a win, she brought women to the forefront of horse racing. Dust Commander wins the Derby.

1973 – In the 99th running of the Kentucky Derby, Secretariat wins with the fastest finishing time to date. Secretariat completed the race in 1:59:40, and went on to win the Triple Crown, for the first time in 25 years.

1974 – The second largest crowd in the history of U.S. Thoroughbred racing watches Cannonade win the 100th Derby. There were a total of 163,628 fans at Churchill Downs to watch the race, which also had a record large field size of 23 horses.

1977 – Seattle Slew wins the Kentucky Derby and goes on to win the Triple Crown. He is the 10th Triple Crown winner, and the only horse to take that title while also undefeated.

1978 – Affirmed wins the Kentucky Derby and goes on to win the Triple Crown.

1984 – The Kentucky Derby is simulcast at 24 racetracks across the nation, allowing those racetracks to live wager on the Kentucky Derby race. A North American record is set for wagering on a single race, at $18,941,933. Swale wins the Derby.

1985 – The Kentucky Derby Museum is opened on the grounds of Churchill Downs Racetrack just one week before the Kentucky Derby is run. The museum’s mission was, and still is, to continue to preserve the history and to share the fun of the Kentucky Derby experience. Spend A Buck wins the Derby.

1986 – The home of the Kentucky Derby race, Churchill Downs Racetrack, is formally placed on the register of National Historic Landmarks. Ferdinand wins the Derby.

1988 – Winning Colors wins the Derby, she is only the third filly in racing history to capture the Kentucky Derby win.

1995 – Thunder Gulch wins the Derby, when the purse is increased to $1 million.

1996 – The Kentucky Derby general admission price is raised to $30; it was only 50 cents when it was first opened in 1938. Grindstone wins the Derby.

1999 – The Kentucky Derby celebrates its 125 running, and Charismatic wins the race. This is the first year Kentucky Derby fans are able to place Future Wagers. The Future Wager allows fans to bet on contenders leading up to the Derby race, when the odds are higher and there is an opportunity to win more money if the contender wins.

2000 – This year marked the third century in which the Kentucky Derby was run; Fusaichi Pegasus wins the Kentucky Derby.

2004 – The Kentucky Derby winner is Smarty Jones, and he is later featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

2006 – Barbaro wins the Kentucky Derby, by six and a half lengths; the largest victory since 1946. Barbaro was injured just weeks later in the Preakness Stakes, and passed away after complications of that injury. He was a Kentucky Derby fan favorite, and a bronze statue is placed above his remains at the entrance of Churchill Downs Racetrack.

2012 – The 138th Kentucky Derby was a record-setting year. I’ll Have Another wins the race in front of the highest attended Kentucky Derby of 165,307 fans. Wagering also set a record, with $133.1 million wagered on the Kentucky Derby race across all-sources.

2015 – American Pharoah wins the Kentucky Derby and goes on to win the Triple Crown. He breaks a Triple Crown drought lasting over 30 years.

2018 – Justify wins the Kentucky Derby and continues on to clinch the Triple Crown. He is the last horse to date to win the Triple Crown.