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!