Kentucky Derby Hats & Horses
The Kentucky Derby starts at the beginning of May (the $4th) and always tends to be one of the toughest races of the year to handicap. The twenty horses, all of which run a mile and a quarter at first, typically several of the horses have the speed of a sprinter setting a demanding and tiring pace, and all of them relatively lightly performed and so still developing. With that there are so many variables one has to take into account when making a Derby bet.
The handicapping of a horse race is an inexact task – a conundrum of art and science. The general view attained from the statistics in most sports are concerned with the process as opposed to the actual results. Results based analysis, in many instances, is viewed as a poor method of decision making because it precludes the acknowledgement of the part that luck can play in certain situations. Handicapping horse races is somewhat different.
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1. Horses – Citation
In this article we’re going to briefly go over the career of one of the most famous horses in racing history, Citation.
If you look past the losses that Citation sustained at the end of his career, this has to have been one of the greatest horses in racing history if you simply look at his accomplishments. Citation was a horse that was not only blessed with blinding speed but with great staying power. The horse just never tired. Add to that a killer instinct that literally willed him past the other horses and this horse was almost unbeatable until he just got too old to do it anymore.
Over the course of Citation’s career there were many changes. After the patriarch of Calumet Farms, Warren Wright, died, trainer Ben Jones started to hand over more responsibility of handling Citation to his son Jimmy. He ultimately took this horse to a place where no other horse had been to that time; retiring as a millionaire in 1951. Unfortunately, the losses he sustained in the last 2 years of his career greatly diminished what he had accomplished in the eyes of others.
The truth is, racing was never easy for Citation in spite of his natural talent. Injuries kept him completely out of the 1949 racing season. To compound matters, Warren Wright’s dying wish that Citation retire a millionaire kept this horse racing into his sixth year when most other horses would have already been long retired. In spite of all this, Citation somehow managed to shake off the defeats late in his career and win his final three races, something nobody expected him to be able to do. His final victory was the Hollywood Gold Cup, which was the race that put him over the million dollar earnings bracket, the only horse to ever reach this plateau.
Warren Wright was actually more responsible for the great horse that Citation became than anyone realizes. It was his choosing to breed Bull Lea, a less than successful triple crown winner, and Hydroplane II, a horse he purchased from Lord Derby in the spring of 1941. Obviously, this pairing was a work of pure genius on Wright’s part.
Citation’s career began in 1945 with great fanfare. By the time he reached his 3 year old season in 1947 he was honored as racing’s Horse Of The Year. That year he won the Flamingo Stakes and Everglades Handicap and he was on a seven race winning streak.
But the pinnacle of that year was when Citation won the triple crown, winning the Kentucky Derby by 3 1/2 lengths, the Preakness by 5 1/2 lengths and the Belmont Stakes by an amazing 11 lengths. With that victory, Citation became racing’s 8th triple crown winner.
But he wasn’t through. Citation won 9 more starts in 1948. By the time his 3 year old career had ended Citation had won 27 races and came in 2nd twice in 29 races.
Citation died on August 8, 1970, at the age of 25. He was truly one of the greatest.
2. Horses – Assault
If seven is a lucky number it certainly was a lucky number in the year 1946 for a horse by the name of Assault who went on to become the 7th triple crown winner in horse racing history.
Assault didn’t have an easy time of it on his way to the triple crown. For that matter, he didn’t have an easy time of it just racing. Coming from a family of horses plagued with health problems and nagging injuries, Assault seemed to fall victim to the same fate. When he was a foal he stepped on a stake at King Ranch and was nearly crippled because of it and it did leave him with a malformed right fore hoof. Because of this, Assault was difficult to shoe. He had a ghastly looking walk and a gallop that ultimately led to him getting the nickname “The Clubfooted Comet”.
As race horses went, against all kinds of odds, Assault was a thing of great beauty. In his first race he finished only 12th and only won 2 of his first 9 races but when the turned three he finally started to get his act together. It was a miracle he could race at all. He won the Wood Memorial Stakes before heading for the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, he finished off the board in the Derby trial and was sent away as an 8 to 1 long shot. Ironically, there was another long shot in that race who ended up setting the early pace. He led Assault by half a length at the stretch but Assault turned it on and ended up winning the race by 8 lengths in a
runaway surprising everyone.
A week later came the Preakness. The racing world was still stunned by this horse’s victory at the Derby and while nobody really expected him to make a run for the triple crown, his dreams of the crown almost ended at the Preakness. It was obvious that he was bothered early in the race and was 6th in a 10 horse field. In a desperation move, Assault’s jockey decided to let it all out and went after the leaders going around the far turn. He was up by 4 lengths going down the stretch but clearly ran out of gas. By the time he staggered home his lead was almost gone, managing to hang on and win narrowly by a neck ahead of Lord Boswell.
Finally on June 1, 1945, came the Belmont Stakes. Many felt that the long distance of this race would be too much for Assault and that his dreams of triple crown glory would come to an end. Assault wasn’t even the favorite in the race, going off at 7 to 5. When the race started, he stumbled and faltered. But this time his jockey didn’t push him. He stayed cool and let Assault work his way up the pack. In the mid stretch he trailed by only 2 lengths. Suddenly he zoomed into the lead with just 200 yards left and won by a comfortable 3 lengths. He became the 7th triple crown champion and the 3rd one of the 1940’s.
3. Horses – Affirmed
In the crazy world of horse racing the one thing we had yet to see going into the 1978 horse racing year was back to back triple crown winners. That was about to all change because of a horse by the name of Affirmed.
Not only had there never been back to back triple crown winners but no horse ever had to beat the same rival in all three legs of the triple crown. So 1978 was indeed special all the way around. Because during this amazing year Affirmed and Alydar gave racing fans all over the world the thrill of a lifetime. By the time the last leg of the triple crown at Belmont was run, Affirmed was a triple crown winner but it was Alydar that got everyone’s sympathy and was the hero of the year.
The truth is, the Affirmed – Alydar rivalry started long before they ever got to the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the crown. On June 15, 1977, was when it all started at Belmont Park. The two horses were running in the Youthful Stakes. It was Alydar’s first race and Affirmed’s second. Affirmed won the race while Alydar finished a disappointing fourth. In was the only time in ten meetings between these two horses that they both didn’t finish first or second.
Affirmed came into the world on February 21, 1975. He was born at Harbor View Farm in
Florida. The owner, Louis Wolfson, had sent other horses out to race in his career but never
with the success that was about to come with Affirmed.
Affirmed made his maiden race on May 24, 1977, at Belmont Park. He won the race by an easy 4 and 1/2 lengths. Three weeks later was when he won the Youthful with Alydar coming in fourth. But after that race, Affirmed and Alydar ran every race almost neck and neck in one of the greatest rivalries of all time.
On July 6 at the Great American Stakes, Alydar finally got the better of Affirmed and beat him winning by 3 and 1/2 lengths. This didn’t discourage trainer Lazaro Barrera who then immediately shipped Affirmed out to Hollywood Park where he won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 23. This was the first of four straight victories for Affirmed.
There were other races afterwards, with Affirmed and Alydar trading victories. This set up the first leg of the triple crown, the Kentucky Derby. Ironically, this turned out to be the least exciting race of the three with Affirmed taking a commanding lead. At the end, Alydar could only close the gap to 1 1/2 lengths though he gave it a valiant effort.
It was a different story two weeks later at the Preakness where the two horses were engaged in an epic duel. Affirmed again took an early lead but this time Alydar made it a race with Affirmed winning only by a neck.
But as good as the Preakness was, the Belmont Stakes will go down in history as being one of the most exciting races in history. For almost the entire race in a five horse field, Affirmed and Alydar were running neck and neck. It was like out of a movie. Finally though it was Affirmed who won the race by a head.
This was indeed one of the greatest horse rivalries in racing history, one which may never be duplicated.
4. Horse Breeds – Thoroughbreds
Thoroughbreds are known as “America’s Racing Horse”. This breed of horse runs at the race track every single day around the world.
History of the Thoroughbred:
This breed of horse was originally bred in England due to the English horsemen’s desire to have a fast race horse. There are three that founded this bloodline which are: Byerley Turk, Darley Arabian and Godolphin Arabian, named after their respective owners, Thomas Darley, Lord Godolphin and Captain Robert Byerley. All of these stallions were imported to England from the Mediterranean Middle East between 1670 and 1710. The result was an animal that could carry weight with sustained speeds over extended distances. Approximately ninety percent of modern thoroughbreds have descended from Eclipse whose grandsire was Darley
Arabian, who was never beaten in eighteen races.
This began a very selective breeding process which has been going on for nearly 250 years. Breeding the best stallions to the best mares to produce fast race horses, giving them superiority and excellence being established on the race track.
Around the turn of the 1700’s, breeding records for Thoroughbreds were sparse and usually incomplete, and many times, they would not name a horse until the young horse had proven them self worthy. A gentleman named James Weatherby, through his own research and hard work and by the consolidation of his own privately kept pedigree records published the first volume of the General Stud Book. This was done in 1791. The first publication listed 387 mares, each of which could trace back to Eclipse. The General Studbook is still published in England by Weatherby and Sons, Secretaries to The English Jockey Club.
Many years later, as thoroughbred racing proliferated in North America the need for a pedigree registry for American Bred Thoroughbreds, similar to the General Stud Book became apparent. In 1873, the first American Stud Book was published by Colonel Sanders D. Bruce. This man spent almost a lifetime researching the pedigrees of American Thoroughbreds. He followed the pattern of the General Stud Book producing six volumes of the register until 1896 when the project was taken over by The Jockey Club. The integrity of the American Stud Book is the foundation on which all Thoroughbred racing in North America Depends.
The first publication of the American Stud Book by The Jockey Club had a foal crop of around 3,000. In 1986 in had grown to an astonish 51,000. Today The Jockey Club runs an elaborate new computer technology to meet the registration challenges posed by the gigantic number of annual registrations. The Jockey Club owns and operates one of the most sophisticated computer operations in the world today, with its database holding more than 1.8 million horses on a master pedigree file, with names that trace back to the 1800’s. This is quite impressive genealogy. As well as bloodlines, this computer system also handles daily racing results of every Thoroughbred race in North America, as well as the ability to process electronically submitted pedigree and racing data from England, Ireland, France and other leading Thoroughbred countries.
Another descendant of Darley Arabian is Diomed; he won the first running of the Kentucky Derby in 1780. When he was twenty one years old he was brought to the United States where he produced the male line through his son, Sir Archie.
The most world renowned horse race is the Kentucky Derby, being the first race of the Triple Crown. The Preakness and The Belmont follow this historical racing event. Thoroughbreds are the horse of choice for track racing. Most thoroughbreds are born between January and April, but their official date of birth is January 1 of the current year. During their first year of growth, they are developing size and power with the youngster beginning his training as a yearling. The horse learns to accept a bridle and a saddle and soon after a rider on his back to break the horse and prepare him for the starting gate and the run around the track.
5. Horses – Whirlaway
Before the great horse Citation, who was trained by Ben Jones and ridden by jockey Eddie Arcaro to victory for the 1948 triple crown, there was another horse that they had the distinction of also taking to triple crown glory, one of the most wild horses in all of racing history. His name, Whirlaway.
There is no question about it, Whirlaway was a psychopath as far as horses went. He was quite prone to some wild adventurous trips around a race track. He was actually considered a mentally ill horse, however that is actually determined. He was a danger to himself and those around him. But there was no doubt in Ben Jones’ mind that this horse was worth training. In his 3 and 4 year old seasons he ran 42 races, winning 25 of them and finishing second 13 times. Truly amazing for a horse that old. Whirlaway became the first of 8 Kentucky Derby winners and the first of 2 triple crown winners for Calumet Farm.
Whirlaway was the son of Blenheim II. In his 2 year old season he did show some signs of brilliance. He won seven starts which included four stakes races. His early record was actually much better than any other previous triple crown winner. All of them combined only won six races by the age of two. But Whirlaway also lost 9 times that year and began to show signs of very erratic behavior. Many times he would run a race and take his jockey to the outside rail before coming back inside and moving in for the kill. He was a very difficult horse to control because of his mental problems.
At the start of his second year of racing, Whirlaway was still showing signs of extremely erratic behavior and it was feared that he would never be ready for the really big races. He lost his first two races that year and fans were left wondering if he would ever be the great horse that Calumet Farm said he would be.
Well, the fans and the rest of the racing world didn’t have to wait long. On May 3, 1941, Whirlaway ran in the Kentucky Derby. Jones had made some modifications to Whirlaway’s blinker so that he could see a little better on the left side but not on the right. He also put Eddie Arcaro on Whirlaway, replacing his old jockey Wendall Eads. Arcaro had ridden a previous Kentucky Derby winner of Jones’. When the race started, Whirlaway did his usual bit of staying at the back of the pack. But with just a quarter mile left, Whirlaway took off and left the
others in the dust, winning by 8 lengths.
The Preakness was no different. At one point, Whirlaway was trailing by 9 lengths and it appeared that he was out of the race. But again, he came on late and ended up winning the Preakness by 5 1/2 lengths.
Finally, a month later at the Belmont Stakes, Whirlaway notched up his place in racing history. This time he came out strong, building a 7 length lead. Even though he started to tire at the end he still hung on for a 2 1/2 length victory.
Sadly, after he retired and was sold to breed, he died just 10 minutes after being taken to a mare.
6. Horses – War Admiral
Sometimes the sons of the fathers surpass the accomplishments of the father. Such was the case with one of the greatest races horses of all time, the son of Man O’ War, War Admiral, who went on to become racing’s 4th triple crown winner.
War Admiral almost wasn’t the 4th triple crown winner. He was almost the 5th. Owner Samuel Riddle, of Glen Riddle Farms, had many prejudices about horse racing beyond the East coast in 1920. Riddle owned War Admiral’s father, Man O’ War. However, he chose to skip the Kentucky Derby with Man O’ War in 1920 because Churchill Downs was too far west for his tastes. Had he run he most likely would have won and been racing’s second triple crown winner. Fate is sometimes a funny thing.
War Admiral didn’t get off to a blazing start in his career but he did win 3 of his first 6 races. He also had 2 second place finishes and 2 third place finishes. He wasn’t even the leading 2 year old that year. But after he won his first start at age 3, people began to take notice of this horse. That first win as a 3 year old was at the Chesapeake Stakes at Maryland’s Havre de Grace race track. It was after this victory that Riddle decided to give War Admiral a shot at the Kentucky Derby. He finally got over his prejudices about racing that far west when he realized that War Admiral could very well be a contender for the triple crown.
War Admiral ran a race just 4 days before the Kentucky Derby. This was an allowance race at Churchill Downs, which he easily won. This set the stage for his incredible showing at the Kentucky Derby. The field of horses at the Derby was 20. War Admiral went off as an 8 to 5 favorite. Many who watched the race say he toyed with the other horses. He never really had to put in any effort and won by a modest 1 3/4 lengths.
But his race at the Preakness a week later was a much tougher test. He was given a real run for his money by the second place finisher in the Derby, Pompoon, but the result was still the same. War Admiral beat out Pompoon by a head and was only a fifth of a second away from the Preakness record.
Finally, on June 5, War Admiral went for the last leg of the triple crown at the Belmont Stakes. The race did not start well for War Admiral as he stumbled at the start of it and injured his right foreleg. It was almost certain he would lose his bid. But somehow this incredible horse managed to storm past the other horses and easily won by 4 lengths. The second place finisher in the Derby and Preakness, Pompoon, was nowhere to be seen all the way back in 7th place.
War Admiral finished his career with an amazing record of 21 wins in 26 races and earnings of over a quarter of a million dollars, which was a lot of money in those days.
7. Kentucky Real Estate – The Bluegrass State
From lush bluegrass to the music of the same name, Kentucky is undeniably the bluegrass state. Fortunately, Kentucky real estate prices won’t leave you blue.
When it comes to assumptions, leave yours at the door when considering Kentucky. This state is a hidden gem. From the Appalachian Mountains to the rolling hills covered with horse racing farms, Kentucky has much to offer. In the mountains, you can hike, climb, camp, fish, go rafting and so on. The state is home to the Mammoth Caves, an absolute must see if you get to this part of the country with there underground cathedrals created by Mother Nature. On top of all of this, you can sip famous Kentucky Whiskey, and listen to the vibrant Bluegrass music scene. Kentucky is simple the hidden gem of the southeast.
Sitting on the border of Indiana, Louisville is a cosmopolitan city with a hint of influence from the original French settlers. The city has the best city park system in the nation and you’ll find plenty of places to stroll and enjoy yourself. The city also provides plenty of neat little walking areas and outdoor cafes are the name of the game. With the University of Louisville, there is definitely a college lifestyle mixed into the atmosphere of the city.
Louisville is known world wide for two things. The Kentucky Derby is an event unto itself and as many as 500,000 people will descend upon the city for the event. Most of these people will experience the second thing Louisville is known for – Bourbon. If the smokey cool drink is your thing, this is the place.
Competing with Louisville is the college town of Lexington. A not so small civil war exists between the two cities when it comes to college basketball games between the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. You must pick a side and be prepared to defend it. Yes, even if you never attended either school!
Lexington is a college town, but the economy is primarily based on the tobacco industry. Fields. Raising horses is also strong business on the surrounding rolling fields. For architecture, you’ll find collections of antebellum homes in the town as well as surrounding hills for hiking and such. Downtown is no great shakes, but Lexington gets a thumbs up overall.
Kentucky Real Estate
Despite the stunning beauty of the state, Kentucky real estate prices are surprisingly reasonable. A single-family home is in Lexington will costs $210,000 on average while the same home in Louisville will set you back an additional $30,000. Appreciation rates for 2005 were a modest 6 percent on average.
If you’re looking to relocate to a new location, Kentucky is a place to be investigated. The state has a lot more to offer than you may realize.