May 1, 1943: Count Fleet won the “street car” Kentucky Derby, for which no tickets could be sold to out-of-town spectators due to wartime travel restrictions.
May 1, 1948: H.A. “Jimmy” Jones, son of Ben A. Jones, stepped aside as the trainer of Citation, allowing his father to be named the colt’s official trainer in the Kentucky Derby. Ben Jones was attempting to match the record of H.J. Thompson, who had trained four Derby winners. Citation did win and Ben A. Jones subsequently won two additional derbies, in 1949 and 1952, to set the mark for most number of wins in the Run for the Roses, six. Jimmy Jones was named as Citation’s trainer in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, however, giving the Jones family a Triple Crown sweep.
May 1, 1971: The New York Off-Track Betting Corp. offered wagering pools on the Kentucky Derby, the first instance in which parimutuel wagering on the race took place outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Churchill Downs had refused to sell the rights to the race to OTB, but the pools were offered nonetheless, generating handle totaling $1,043,005
May 1, 1976: Trainer Laz Barrera won three stakes in three different states: the Kentucky Derby with Bold Forbes; New York’s Carter Handicap with Due Diligence and the Illinois Derby with Life’s Hope.
May 1, 1993: Paul Mellon became the second person in racing history of have bred and owned winners of the Kentucky Derby (Sea Hero, who won the 1993 Derby) and the Epsom Derby (Mill Reef, who won in 1971). John Galbreath was the first to have accomplished the Derby double, which he did with Proud Clarion (1967 Kentucky Derby) and Roberto (1972 Epsom Derby).
May 1, 1999: Charismatic won the 125th Kentucky Derby at odds of 31-1, giving trainer D. Wayne Lukas his fourth Derby win and his owners, Bob and Beverly Lewis, their second Derby victor.
May 1, 2004: Total wagering on the 130th Kentucky Derby, won by Smarty Jones, and the Derby Day racing card at Churchill Downs smashed North American betting records. A record $99,348,706 was wagered on the Derby. Total betting on the 12-race Kentucky Derby Day card was $142,775,857.
May 1, 2010: Trainer Todd Pletcher broke his 0-for-24 skein in the Kentucky Derby by saddling Super Saver to win the Run for the Roses.
May 2, 1904: Laska Durnell became the first woman to own a Kentucky Derby starter and winner when longshot Elwood took the 30th Run for the Roses. Elwood, the only Missouri-bred to win the Kentucky Derby, was also the first Derby winner to be bred by a woman, Mrs. J.B. Prather.
May 2, 1934: Future Triple Crown winner War Admiral was foaled at Faraway Farm, Lexington, Ky.
May 2, 1953: Native Dancer suffered his only defeat in 22 starts. He finished second in the Kentucky Derby as the 7-10 favorite, beaten a head by a 25-1 shot, Dark Star. Going into the Derby, Native Dancer had 11 consecutive wins.
May 2, 1970: Diane Crump became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby. Her mount, Fathom, finished 15th in a field of 17.
May 2, 1981: The first simulcast of the Kentucky Derby took place, with three outlets—Centennial Park, Longacres Racecourse and Yakima Meadows—receiving the signal. Total simulcast wagering was $455,163. The Derby simulcast was suspended for the next two years, pending approval by Kentucky horsemen, and was reinstated in 1984.
May 2, 2000: Jockey Julie Krone became the first female elected to Thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame.
May 2, 2009: Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot, won the 135th Kentucky Derby by 6 ¾ lengths in a field of 19. The win would land Mine That Bird, and his jockey Calvin Borel, on the cover of the following week’s Sports Illustrated.
May 3, 1769: Namesake of racing’s annual awards, Eclipse made his first public appearance in a heat race at Epsom, England. The chestnut won his first trial easily, prompting gambler Dennis O’Kelly to predict “Eclipse first, the rest nowhere” at the start of the second heat. O’Kelly’s forecast was correct. Eclipse won the second four-mile race by nearly 1-4 mile.
May 3, 1902: Jockey James Winkfield, the last African American rider to win the Kentucky Derby, won his second consecutive Derby aboard Alan-a-Dale.
May 3, 1952: The first coast-to-coast, network-televised Kentucky Derby aired on CBS. Favorite Hill Gail won the Derby, giving his jockey Eddie Arcaro a record fifth victory in the Kentucky Derby, and his trainer, Ben A. Jones, the record for most number of wins (six). Arcaro’s record was matched on this day in 1969 by jockey Bill Hartack. Jones’ record has not been equaled.
May 3, 1958: CBS used a “split screen” for its telecast of the Kentucky Derby, necessitated by the presence of the popular runner Silky Sullivan, who was famous for running far off the pace. Most of the screen was allotted to the main group of runners, with a small corner given over to Silky Sullivan. Although he was one of the favorites for the race, Silky failed to deliver his customary winning drive in the stretch and finished 12th, beaten 20 lengths by the victorious Tim Tam.
May 3, 1969: Jockey Bill Hartack won his fifth Kentucky Derby aboard Majestic Prince, tying Eddie Arcaro’s 1952 record. Majestic Prince was trained by Hall of Fame jockey John Longden, the only person to have trained and ridden a Kentucky Derby winner.
May 3, 1980: Diana Firestone’s Genuine Risk became the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby. Regret won it in 1915; Winning Colors, in 1988.
May 3, 1986: Charlie Whittingham, at age 73, became the oldest trainer to win his first Kentucky Derby when he sent Ferdinand to victory. Ferdinand’s rider, Bill Shoemaker, was the oldest jockey (54) to take the Run for the Roses. Whittingham topped himself in 1989, winning the Derby a second time (at age 76) with Sunday Silence.
May 3, 2003: Funny Cide won the 129th Kentucky Derby and became the first-ever New York-bred, and first gelding in 74 years, to win the Run for the Roses.
May 3, 2008: Big Brown dominates the Kentucky Derby despite breaking from post 20. Derby runner-up Eight Belles was injured while galloping out after the race and had to be euthanized.
May 4, 1905: Belmont Park opened for its first race meet.
May 4, 1957: Bill Shoemaker, aboard Gallant Man, misjudged the finish line for the Kentucky Derby and stood up in the irons prematurely. Gallant Man lost the race by a nose to Iron Liege. Round Table was third and Bold Ruler was fourth in this historic finish.
May 4, 1968: Dancer’s Image became the first horse to be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby because post-race testing revealed an illegal medication. Forward Pass was declared the winner, giving Calumet Farm its eighth Derby winner, a record.
May 4, 1996: Trainer D. Wayne Lukas set the record for most consecutive wins in Triple Crown races, six, when Grindstone won the Kentucky Derby. Lukas’ winning streak began with the 1994 Preakness Stakes, which he won with Tabasco Cat.
May 4, 2007: Mark Guidry became the 21st jockey to reach the 5,000-win mark when he rode Chippewa Trail to victory in the first race at Churchill Downs.
May 5, 1934: Brookmeade Stable’s Cavalcade won the Kentucky Derby, his third victory in a span of less than two weeks.
May 5, 1973: Secretariat became the first horse to complete the 1 ¼-mile course for the Kentucky Derby in less than two minutes when he won the 99th Run for the Roses in a record 1:59 2/5, which was 3/5 faster than Northern Dancer’s 1964 mark of 2:00, to set a track and stakes record that still holds. He ran each successive quarter-mile of the race faster than the previous one, with split times of :25 1/5, :24, :23 4/5, :23 2/5 and :23.
May 5, 1990: Frances Genter, age 92, became the oldest winning owner in Derby history when Unbridled won the 116th renewal of the Run for the Roses.
May 5, 2004: Smarty Jones became the first Kentucky Derby winner in 21 years to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
May 5, 2007: Street Sense became the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to emerge victorious in the Kentucky Derby when he captured the Run for the Roses by 2 ¼ lengths under Calvin Borel.
May 6, 1895: African American jockey James “Soup” Perkins guided the favorite Halma to a wire-to-wire victory in the 21st running of the Kentucky Derby. Perkins, who was 15, joined fellow African American jockey Alonzo Clayton as the youngest jockey to ride a Derby winner.
May 6, 1896: African American jockey Willie Simms guided Ben Brush to victory in the 22nd Kentucky Derby, the first time the race was run at 1 1/4 miles. Two years later, Simms would win the Derby aboard Plaudit, giving him a perfect record in the Kentucky Derby: two wins in two attempts.
May 6, 1933: In the “fighting finish” to the Kentucky Derby—before the advent of photo-finish cameras and video patrol—jockey Don Meade on Brokers Tip, and Herb Fisher, on Head Play, pushed, hit, tugged and jostled each other to the finish line at Churchill Downs. Brokers Tip was declared the winner, by a margin of two or three inches.
May 6, 2000: Fusaichi Pegasus became the first betting favorite to win the Kentucky Derby since Spectacular Bid in 1979.
May 6, 2006: Unbeaten three-year-old Barbaro won the 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby by 6 ½ lengths, the biggest winning margin since Assault won by eight lengths in 1946.
May 6, 2009: Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables purchased recent Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra from owner/breeder Dolphus Morrison and partner Michael Lauffer.
May 7, 1938: The Kentucky Derby Glass made its debut. First used as a water glass for the track restaurant, the mint julep glass has been a part of the Derby tradition for more than 50 years.
May 7, 1949: Calumet Farm’s Ponder won the 75th Kentucky Derby, which was first telecast on a limited basis by local TV station WAVE.
May 7, 1973: Secretariat was flown to Pimlico Racecourse to prepare for the Preakness Stakes after his record-breaking performance in the Kentucky Derby.
May 7, 1983: Aboard Sunny’s Halo, jockey Eddie Delahoussaye became the last rider to win consecutive Kentucky Derbies. Other riders to have won back-to-back Derbies are: Isaac Murphy, Ron Turcotte and James Winkfield.
May 7, 1988: Winning Colors, the first roan and the third filly to win the Kentucky Derby, provided trainer D. Wayne Lukas with his first Derby win in 13 attempts.
May 7, 1992: Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. announced his retirement from race riding.
May 7, 2001: Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas saddled his 4,000th career winner, scoring with Added Spice in the ninth race at Delaware Park. Lukas’s mark put him behind only Dale Baird (8,479 wins), Jack Van Berg (6,300) and King Leatherbury (5,190).
May 7, 2002: Seattle Slew, the last surviving Triple Crown winner, died at Hill ‘N Dale Farm in Lexington, Ky., at age 28. Seattle Slew’s death came on the 25th anniversary of his Kentucky Derby victory.
May 7, 2007: Fresh off his victory two days earlier in the Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense, jockey Calvin Borel attends a White House State Dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth II of England.
May 8, 1901: David Garrick, owned by American Pierre Lorillard, won the Chester Cup in England, under the guidance of American jockey Danny Maher.
May 8, 1915: H.P. Whitney’s Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby, 40 years after the race’s inception in 1875.
May 8, 1937: Mary Hirsch, daughter of Max Hirsch, who had conditioned 1936 Kentucky Derby winner Bold Venture, became the first woman trainer to saddle a runner in the Kentucky Derby. The horse, No Sir, who was also owned by Miss Hirsch, finished 13th in a field of 20.
May 9, 1945: The wartime government ban on horse racing in the United States was lifted.
May 10, 1842: Fashion, representing the North, competed against Boston, representing the South, in a match race at Union Course. Described by contemporaries as the best race ever run in America, with $20,000 put up on each side, the match was won by Fashion before a crowd estimated between 50,000 and 70,000.
May 10, 1910: George Woolf, namesake of a jockey’s award given annually by Santa Anita Park, was born in Cardston, Alberta.
May 10, 1919: Sir Barton won the Kentucky Derby after being winless in six tries. Four days later, on May 14, he won the Preakness Stakes, and on June 11, he became the first Triple Crown winner after capturing the Belmont Stakes.
May 11, 1888: Trainer Robert Walden set the record for the most number of Preakness winners—seven—when he sent Refund to victory.
May 11, 1892: African American jockey Alonzo Clayton, age 15, became the youngest rider to win the Kentucky Derby when he guided Azra to victory in the 18th running of the Derby.
May 11, 1935: Trainer “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons sent a two-year-old colt, White Cockade, to victory in the Youthful Stakes at Jamaica, giving his 26-year-old owner, Ogden Phipps, his first stakes win ever.
May 12, 1909: The Preakness Stakes was held in Maryland after 16 runnings in New York. As part of the celebration that marked the return of the Preakness, the colors of the race’s winner were painted onto the ornamental weathervane at Pimlico Racecourse for the first time.
May 12, 1917: Omar Khayyam became the first foreign-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. He was bred in England.
May 12, 1924: Nellie Morse became the fourth and last filly to win the Preakness Stakes. Other fillies to win the Preakness were Flocarline (1903); Whimsical (1906); and Rhine Maiden (1915).
May 12, 1936: Jockey Ralph Neves was involved in a racing accident at Bay Meadows and erroneously pronounced dead. He was later revived at the morgue and he returned to the racetrack the same day. He was ordered to sit out the remainder of the racing card and so missed only a half-day of work because of his “death.”
May 12, 1990: D. Wayne Lukas became the first trainer to top $100 million in purses when he sent Calumet Farm’s Criminal Type to win the Pimlico Special at Pimlico Racecourse.
May 13, 1845: The Great Sectional Match, the North versus the South, was run at Union Course in New York. Fashion, representing the North, raced against the South’s Peytona in a match race won by Peytona. Three years earlier, Fashion had defeated Boston, who represented the South, in another North-South rivalry.
May 13, 1891: Kingman, the only African American-owned horse to win the Derby, did so with jockey Isaac Murphy in the irons. Kingman was owned and trained by African American Dudley Allen. The win gave jockey Isaac Murphy back-to-back Derby victories and made him the first jockey to win three Derbies.
May 13, 1939: Louis Schaefer became the first person to have ridden and trained a Preakness Stakes winner after he saddled Challedon to victory. Schaefer won the 1929 Preakness as a jockey, riding Dr. Freeland. Schaefer’s double was replicated by jockey-turned-trainer John Longden, who rode Count Fleet in the 1943 Preakness and trained Majestic Prince to win the race in 1969.
May 13, 1973: Secretariat worked five furlongs in :57 2/5 at Pimlico Racecourse in preparation for the May 19 Preakness Stakes. He was eased after completing his workout distance, but still ran six furlongs in 1:10.
May 14, 1989: E.P. Taylor, owner of Windfields Farms and breeder of Northern Dancer, died at age 88.
May 14, 2000: Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Ill., re-opened its gates to racing after being closed for two years, welcoming a crowd of 35,273.
May 14, 2010: Retired jockey Gwen Jocson guided home Honor in Peace to win the first-ever Lady Legends for the Cure race at Pimlico.
May 15, 1918: Two horses—War Cloud and Jack Hare Jr.—were declared the winner of the Preakness Stakes, not because of a dead heat, but because the race was run in two divisions.
May 15, 1952: John Longden gained his 4,000th victory, riding at Hollywood Park.
May 15, 1954: Nashua won his first race, running 4 ½ furlongs over a straightaway at Belmont Park.
May 15, 1993: Genuine Risk, the second of three fillies to have won the Kentucky Derby since it began in 1875, gave birth to her first foal after 13 years of failed attempts and miscarriages. The foal, a son of Rahy, was named Genuine Reward.
May 15, 1999: Lee Chang Ferrell, a patron in the Pimlico infield, jumped onto the track in midstretch and interfered with the running of the Maryland Breeders’ Cup Handicap. The race winner, Yes It’s True, avoided the trouble, but wagers on fifth-place finisher Artax were refunded due to the incident. Later that day, Charismatic, winner of the Kentucky Derby, took the Preakness Stakes before a record crowd of 100,311.
May 15, 2004: Smarty Jones won the Preakness Stakes by 11 ½ lengths, the largest winning margin in the 129-year history of the event.
May 16, 1884: Buchanan became the first maiden to win the Kentucky Derby. Only two other maiden horses have gone on to win the Run for the Roses: Sir Barton in 1919, and Brokers Tip in 1933.
May 16, 1925: The first network radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby aired from WHAS in Louisville.
May 16, 1979: Gary Stevens rode his first career winner, named Lil Star, trained by his father, Ron Stevens, at Les Bois Park.
May 16, 1998: Bob Baffert became the first person to train Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winners in successive years. In 1997, Baffert won the Derby and Preakness with Silver Charm; the following year, he won with Real Quiet.
May 16, 1998: During Preakness Stakes Day at Pimlico Racecourse, a transformer went down at 1:00 p.m., causing a power failure in the grandstand. With temperatures in the 90s, the facility had no operating air-conditioning, lights, closed-circuit television, public address system, elevators, escalators or betting windows. A record crowd of 91,122 was on hand and an estimated $1.5 million in on-track handle was lost.
May 16, 2009: Rachel Alexandra became just the fifth filly to win the Preakness Stakes, and the first since Nellie Morse in 1924. Rachel Alexandra held off the late rush of Kentucky Derby victor Mine That Bird to secure the win.