A Look at the Origins of the Kentucky Derby

Don’t worry — this isn’t like your old history class where the teacher droned on and on about the same topic. We think that if you’re going to bet on the race, you need to have a little idea of where the race came from in the first place.

The Kentucky Derby is a race so popular that even on bettors know about it. The Derby started in 1875, when Churchill Downs first opened. The event is a mile and a quarter, and the total price money is 2 million USD.

Col. M. Lewis Clark set up three major stakes races, hoping to emulate the major races in England: the Epsom Derby, the Epsom Oaks, and the St. Leger Stakes. So at Churchill Downs, we have the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Clark Handicap.

Kentucky Derby Horse RacingThe Derby didn’t get popular until 1902 when management turned over to Col. Matt Winn. The track was profitable in 1903, a mere 28 years after it was opened. Winn expanded the track and used major publicity to turn the Derby into an exciting event. It’s a major media event with hundreds of reporters, photographers, and television and radio personalities coming to the track. Millions of people place bets on the race all over the world.

Online wagering services love taking bets on the Derby. Newcomers to the world of horse racing don’t have any idea about the history of the horses, but it’s the Derby — everyone gets really fired up about it.

If you want to stay at home and just pick a winner, you want to get as much data as you can about each and every horse. It really does make a difference. Learning how to handicap your horses properly will make a huge difference in the long run. You might as well figure out how to get things done, and what will be the most profitable bet for you. Thankfully, there are tons of Kentucky Derby forums online. Hang out in a few of them and pick up more gems about the game.

If you want to just make a casual bet so you can talk about it at home with your friends, you can do that too. It gives you something to think about when it’s all said and done. Good luck!

Kentucky Derby Trainers That Made History

So we’re being a little sentimental today, but we have our reasons: horse racing is an amazing sport. There’s a lot of care, consideration, and focus that comes into play. Knowing who the legendary trainers were can help you identify the great trainers of today. Many of these trainers had assistants that went on to continue training horses on their own. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. If you’re trying to become a serious horse bettor, you’re going to need to learn this stuff eventually. So even though we said we wouldn’t harp too terribly long on history, we think this is good history you need to know about.

The Kentucky Derby attracts so many because the prize is so large. It’s a race that only 3 year old thoroughbreds can enter. If a trainer has a horse win this race, it’s really the highlight of his or her career.

We wanted to cover those amazing trainers that have truly changed the way the race has been won.

Ben A. Jones

This is truly a legendary trainer. He trained from 1909 through 1953, and has had SIX Kentucky Derby winners: Lawrin (1938), Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), Hill Gail (1952).

He trained for the Calumet Farm stable. He was semi-retired for the last 3 Derby winners, but his impact can still be felt. His son, Jimmy Jones, continued the tradition of horse training.

Henry J. Thompson

This man had four Kentucky Derby winners: Behave Yourself (1921), Bubbling Over (1926), Burgoo King (1932), Brokers Tip (1933). Twice he even had the first and second place finishers in the race. He began training for E.J. (Lucky) Baldwin on the West Coast, and after seven years moved east to train for Col. E.R. Bradley and stayed with his stable for the rest of his career. All his Derby winners are from Bradley’s stable. Probably his most famous Derby winner was Broker’s Tip who beat Head Play in the infamous “Fighting Finish” Derby of 1933.

There’s also D. Wayne Lukas, who is still training but has gone more under the radar. He’s had over 42 horses run in the Derby, and four KD winners: Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996), Charismatic (1999).

He’s spawned a new generation of trainers, including Todd Pletcher, Kiaran McLaughlin, and Dallas Stewart.

We couldn’t skip over Bob Baffert, who is still training to this day. He’s won 8 Triple Crown races, 7 Breeders’ Cup races, trained 10 champions, and led the nation in earnings 3 years in a row (98-00). He’s had 3 KD winners. Baffert is a very outspoken trainer who truly loves the sport.

There’s quite a few more trainers out there, but we aren’t trying to bore you. Dig into the history of horse racing — you’ll find a lot of interesting stuff there!