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‘Breeders Cup’ Category

  1. Kentucky Derby History

    March 12, 2013 by saratogasam

    Kentucky Derby History


    By Matthew Bass


    The classic American horse race, the Kentucky Derby is the oldest consecutively held Thoroughbred race in America. It is run annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Along with the Preakness in mid-May, and Belmont in early June, it is the first jewel of the coveted Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing, which has been won by only eleven horses since 1919. Triple Crown winners include memorable names such as Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Whirlaway, and Affirmed.


    The first Kentucky Derby was held May 17, 1875, before a crowd of 10,000 from around the city, state and surrounding areas. In that race, a field of 15 three-year-olds ran a 1.5 mile course which was won by H.P. McGrath’s Aristides. Although the first Derby was held at 1.5 miles, the distance was changed to the current 1.25 miles in 1896. The Derby field is limited to three-year-olds; fillies carry 121 pounds and colts 126 pounds. So far, only three fillies have won the Derby: Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980, and Winning Colors in 1988. The Kentucky Derby has also produced countless statistics and bits of trivia over the course of its history. The largest field was during the 100th running in 1974 when 23 horses ran. The smallest fields were in 1892 and 1905, with only three horses in each race.


    The fastest Derby was run by the legendary Secretariat, who covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59 2/5, the only Derby winner to finish under two minutes.


    Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr who built Churchill Downs in Louisville, wanted his track to have a race that would rival England’s Epsom Derby. After visiting England to study both its tracks and its races, he established the Kentucky Derby, which was first run on May 17, 1875.


    However, the Derby was just another regional race until 1902, when Colonel Matt J. Winn took over the track. Although he had seen every Derby since the beginning, Winn knew little about horse racing or running tracks. But he was a very good promoter.


    After raising money to save Churchill Downs from bankruptcy, Winn began making frequent trips to New York, then the center of American racing to persuade owners to enter their horses in the Kentucky Derby. His persistence paid off. By 1920, the Derby had become the best-known race in the North America and it was attracting the top three-year-olds from all over the country.


    The first race in the Triple Crown, The Derby is run on the first Saturday in May. A whole week of festivities know as The Kentucky Derby Festival is built around the race which, like the Indianapolis 500, has become as much a happening as a sporting event. It attracts crowds of well over 150,000 spectators and is watched on television by millions more, many of whom are otherwise not interested in Thoroughbred racing.


    #aristides  #churchilldowns  #seattleslew  #affirmed  #louisville  #kentucky


  2. The Triple Crown

    May 11, 2006 by saratogasam

    The Triple Crown – Horse Racing’s Ultimate Challenge


    By C Wayne


    The Triple Crown, like so many of our best traditions, wasn’t created, it grew into being. During the late 1800’s three different tracks created races to test the new crop of three year olds. These three races, the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby were held in the same year for the first time in 1875. It wasn’t until 44 years later that Sir Barton (1919) became the first horse to win all three. The term, Triple Crown, wasn’t coined until 1930 when Daily Racing Form’s columnist, Charles Hatton, used it while covering Gallant Fox’s winning efforts.
    In the 131 years that have passed only 11 horses have managed to accomplish what is arguably the most difficult feat in sports. Compared to the Triple Crown, no-hitters in baseball are an everyday occurrence; back to back championships in other sporting events, a dime a dozen; there have been more solar eclipses in our lifetime than Triple Crown winners and each year more people are struck by lightening than the total number of Triple Crown winners in history.
    Some of horse racing’s most legendary names failed to capture this event. Man o’ War managed only 2 out of the 3 legs (did not start in the Kentucky Derby); Seabiscuit, after losing 17 straight races as a two year old wasn’t even considered (although he did later beat 1937’s Triple Crown winner, War Admiral in a match race); Cigar never competed, starting his great winning streak late in his fourth year.
    What makes this event so difficult to win? Several factors have to be considered. First there’s the age of the horses. Triple Crown races are limited to 3 year olds, juveniles, all of whom officially have their birthday on January 1st of each year. By the first Saturday in May (the running of the Kentucky Derby), though most of the contestants will have actually reached their third birthday, they won’t realize their full growth and potential until their fourth or fifth years.
    Another significant aspect is the shortness of time between races. Most stakes graded horses of today run with 30 to 60 days off between races, but Triple Crown contenders must run 3 grueling races within the span of 35 days. Notably Sir Barton, the first Triple Crown winner, won the Preakness only 4 days after winning the Kentucky Derby while today’s challengers do have 14 days between the two races.
    Perhaps the most important factor is the distance of these races, the Derby is a mile and a quarter (10 furlongs), the Preakness, a mile and three sixteenths (9.5 furlongs) and the Belmont at a mile and a half (12 furlongs) is the longest of the three. The horses that survive their attempt at the Triple Crown will seldom, if ever, compete at these distances again. And yes, survival is a consideration. Many Triple Crown hopefuls are never able to compete again after the Belmont, even potential superstars such as Smarty Jones in 2004.
    Will Barbaro be the next Triple Crown winner? He has the breeding and the talent, but as of this writing twenty horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown only to fail at Belmont. Twenty five more have won two of the three races, but maybe this year…
    The Triple Crown stands as the ultimate test of greatness, and that’s why on the first Saturday in May each year, America’s thoughts turn to horse racing and the hope of just one more Triple Crown winner. Because we do, after all, need another hero.

    Triple Crown Facts:

    The Belmont Stakes was first run in 1867 for $1,850.00 at the Jerome Park Race Course in New York, and was originally a mile and five eights, but has also been run at a mile and one eighth and a mile and three eights before settling at a mile and a half in 1926
    The first Preakness Stakes was held in 1873 with a prize of $1,850.00 at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland at a distance of a mile and a half, but has been run at six different distances between a mile and a mile and a half before stabilizing at a mile and three sixteenths in 1925
    The first Kentucky Derby was in 1875 for a purse of $2,850.00 at the Louisville Jockey Club Course, later renamed Churchill Downs, at a mile and a half, but was shortened to a mile and a quarter in 1896
    Since 1875 there have been 5 years when it was not possible to have a Triple Crown winner:
    In 1890 the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness where on the same day at the same track
    In 1911 and 1912 the Belmont Stakes was not held
    In 1917 and 1922 the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness where held on the same day
    Only Triple Crown winner to directly sire another, Gallant Fox (1930) sired Omaha (1935)
    Only two trainers have trained more than one Triple Crown winner, James Fitzsimmons – Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935) and Ben A. Jones – Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948)
    Only one jockey has ridden more than one Triple Crown winner, Eddie Arcaro – Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948)
    No filly has ever won the Triple Crown
    Number of living Triple Crown winners – none, Seattle Slew (1977) passed away in 2002
    Number of Triple Crown winners to win the Breeders’ Cup – none, Last Triple Crown winner Affirmed (1978), inaugural Breeder’s Cup 1984


    C Wayne is an author and lecturer on gaming and handicapping. 

    #whirlaway  #smartyjones