Test your knowledge of the history of the Kentucky Derby by answering ten questions plus a very obscure bonus question. Correct answers are provided at the end of this post. No cheating by doing an Internet search.

1. Native Dancer lost only one race in his Hall of Fame career and that was the 1953 Kentucky Derby. What was the name of the winner?

a. Determine
b. Dark Star
c. Middleground
d. Hill Gail
e. Ponder

2. Two jockeys are tied with the record for most Kentucky Derby wins at five? Who are they?

a. Gary Stevens and Eddie Arcaro
b. Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack
c. Jimmy Winkfield and Bill Shoemaker
d. Isaac Murphy and Jimmy Winkfield
e. Isaac Murphy and Earl Sande

3. The record for most Kentucky Derby wins is held by what trainer?

a. Ben Jones
b. D. Wayne Lukas
c. Bob Baffert
d. Max Hirsch
e. James Fitzsimmons

4. The record for most Kentucky Derby wins by an owner is held by?

a. King Ranch
b. Claiborne Farm
c. Calumet Farm
d. Harry Payne Whitney
e. Greentree Stable (Helen Hay Whitney)

5. What colt holds the Kentucky Derby record for the fastest final time since the race has been run at 1 ¼ miles?

a. Northern Dancer
b. Whirlaway
c. American Pharoah
d. Secretariat
e. Swaps

6. Jockey Bill Shoemaker misjudged the finish line in the 1957 Kentucky Derby and momentarily pulled up his mount, which almost certainly cost him the win. Who was he riding and who won the race?

a. Gallant Man and Iron Liege
b. Bold Ruler and Round Table
c. Pensive and Determine
d. Silky Sullivan and Tim Tam
e. Native Dancer and Dark Star

7. The highest price ever paid at public auction for a yearling that would win the Kentucky Derby was $4 million. The colt was?

a. Orb
b. Sea Hero
c. Barbaro
d. Fusaichi Pegasus
e. Seattle Slew

8. Which winner of the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown champion sired a winner of the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown champion?

a. Sir Barton
b. Gallant Fox
c. Omaha
d. War Admiral
e. Count Fleet

9. What was the name of the second of three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby?

a. Regret
b. Cicada
c. Ruffian
d. Winning Colors
e. Genuine Risk

10. The only colt to be declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby on a disqualification of the colt who actually came in first was?

a. Dancer’s Image
b. Nashua
c. Forward Pass
d. Decidedly
e. Black Gold

Bonus Question

11. Matt Winn was the president of Churchill Downs who built the Kentucky Derby into a famous sporting event. What was his original occupation?

a. Physician
b. Tailor
c. Saloon Owner
d. Teamster
e. Boxer


9-10 questions correct and correctly answered the bonus question= Derby Scholar Summa Cum Laude
9-10 questions correct and missed the bonus question = A
8 questions correct and correctly answered the bonus question = B+
8 questions correct and missed the bonus question = B
7 questions correct and correctly answered the bonus question = C+
7 questions correct and missed the bonus question = C
6 questions correct and correctly answered the bonus question = Ladies’ or Gentlemen’s C-
6 or fewer questions correct and missed the bonus question = Remedial study required

Correct answers: 1b, 2b, 3a, 4c, 5d, 6a, 7d, 8b, 9e, 10c, 11b

Copyright © 2016 Horse Racing Business


2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the remarkable stretch-running win by Needles in the 1956 Kentucky Derby.

Trained by WWI Ace, Hugh Fontaine, Needles won his debut at two in a 4 ½ furlong race in March 1955. He set a track record for 4 ½ furlongs at Gulfstream Park that stood for more than four decades. Needles defeated Decathlon and Polly’s Jet winning the Sapling S. and Career Boy and Polly’s Jet in the Hopeful. A track record at a mile in the prep for the Garden State Stakes, which he also won, sealed his bid for the two-year-old championship.

From eight starts at three, Needles’ stretch runs carried him to victories over Fabius in the Flamingo Stakes and the Florida Derby in track record time. Needles started as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby and came from 25 lengths out, through traffic, to defeat Fabius by a length. A strong closing second in the Preakness to Fabius, by 1 ½ lengths, and a thrilling Belmont victory clinched the three year old championship title. It takes a very special horse to repeat as champion at two and three. Other horses that accomplished this feat are Secretariat, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Citation, and American Pharoah.

Before an injury at four, in only three starts Needles won the Fort Lauderdale Handicap in track record time and was third in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, both under top weight. Retiring with a career record of 21 starts, 11 wins, 3 seconds, 3 thirds and earnings of $600,355, Needles won from 4 ½ furlongs to 1 ½ miles, setting three new track records and equaling another at distances of 4 ½ to 9 furlongs, from two to four years of age. Had there been a bonus structure in the Triple Crown series in his day, Needles would have won the bonus. By comparison to today’s purses, his earnings would be over $3,500,000.

After attractive proposals from Kentucky, his owners Jackson Dudley and Bonnie Heath decided to stand Needles in his native Florida, building the 4th and 5th Thoroughbred farms in Marion County. The lack of available quality mares reduced his prospects at stud, nonetheless he sired 13% stakes winners and earners of $6,230,259. Needles brought world focus to breeding in Florida and Marion County where there are now about 400 Thoroughbred farms.

Needles put the Florida Thoroughbred industry on the map and sold more land than all the real estate agents in Marion County.

Reproduced and adapted by permission from the Bonnie Heath Farm website, Reddick FL.

Click here to read a Blood-Horse article on Needles.


Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota, near the Twin Cities, has taken an admirable step toward making its pari-mutuel offerings more competitive with betting alternatives.  Following is an excerpt from the racetrack’s announcement:

“Canterbury Park racing officials today announced a sweeping reduction in pari-mutuel takeout that will result in [Canterbury Park] offering a wagering product priced lower, on average, than any track in the country.  With win, place, show takeout set at 15 percent and all exotic wagers at 18 percent, Canterbury Park will be the best horse racing wagering opportunity in the United States when its 69-day meet begins May 20.

Racing and gaming industry economists suggest that handle, the amount of money wagered, will increase substantially as takeout is reduced.  Canterbury officials are confident that bettors will embrace the lower takeout and continually improving quality of racing with field size that regularly exceeds the national average.”

Previously, Canterbury Park had takeout rates of 17% on win, place, show bets and 23% on exotics.  Thus the new takeout rates amount to an 11.8% reduction on win, place show bets and a 21.7% decrease on exotic wagers.

How do Canterbury Park takeout percentages stack up against takeout rates at some well-known racetracks?

Aqueduct and Belmont take 16% on win, place and show wagers and 24% on exactas and trifectas.  Churchill Downs charges 17.5% on win, place and show bets and 22% on exactas and trifectas.  Keeneland takes 16% on win, place, and show wagers and 19% on exactas and trifectas.  Santa Anita takes 15.43% on win, place, show bets , 22.68 on exactas, and 23.68% on trifectas.  Saratoga charges 16% on win, place, and show wagers, 18.5% on exactas, and 24% on trifectas.

A couple of Canadian racetracks have a slightly lower win, place, show takeout rate than Canterbury Park and a few U. S. racetracks come close.  However, no racetrack has lower takeout than Canterbury Park on both win, place, and show wagers and exotics.

It will be informative to see how Canterbury’s handle responds to reduced takeout rates in its upcoming season.  The keys are for track management to combine lower takeout rates with full fields…and to widely disseminate the information about the most bettor-friendly takeout rates to potential customers.

The view here is that it would require a takeout rate of 10%-11% on win, place, show wagers and 12%-13% on exotics to dramatically increase pari-mutuel wagering in the United States.  A significant empirical test of the effects of takeout rates on handle is about to ensue in New Jersey, which in mid-May is going to offer New Jersey residents exchange wagering.  The takeout rate will be 12%.  Bettors will be able to lock in fixed odds and will be able to place wagers while a race is in process.

Copyright © 2016 Horse Racing Business