Archives for April 2021


Ben A. Jones, the legendary trainer for Calumet Farm in its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, and Bob Baffert are tied at six wins each in the Kentucky Derby.  Baffert trained two Triple Crown winners, American Pharoah and Justify.  Ben Jones would also be credited with two Triple Crown winners had he not chosen to list himself as the trainer of record for Citation in the Kentucky Derby and then designate his son Horace A. “Jimmy” Jones as Citation’s trainer in the Preakness and Belmont. 

Following are Jones and Baffert’s Kentucky Derby winners:

Ben A. Jones:

Hill Gail, 1952
Ponder, 1949
Citation, 1948
Pensive, 1944
Whirlaway, 1941
Lawrin, 1938

Bob Baffert:

Authentic, 2020
Justify, 2018
American Pharoah, 2015
War Emblem, 2002
Real Quiet, 1998
Silver Charm, 1997

Baffert, at age 68, continues to attract potentially top-flight colts to his stable.  Thus it would not be at all surprising to see him train a seventh Kentucky Derby winner before he retires and have the accolade of “winningest Kentucky Derby winner” to himself.  If he were to have a colt win another Triple Crown, he would also surpass the other trainer with two Triple Crown wins, James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, who trained Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox in 1930 and his son Omaha in 1935. 

The Baffert-trained Medina Spirit is not one of the favorites in this year’s Kentucky Derby, so a seventh Baffert win in 2021 would be an upset.

Copyright © 2021 Horse Racing Business


The 1921 Kentucky Derby will be the one hundred forty seventh running of the race.  From 1875 through 2020, there were seven jockey objections and/or steward inquiries, with two disqualifications of winners and another disqualification of a fourth-place finisher.

Jockey objections/steward inquiries that did not result in disqualification:


Jockey John Velazquez, rider of second-placed Invisible Ink, claimed that Jorge Chavez on first-placed Monarchos interfered with his colt at the quarter pole.


Jockey Bill Boland on second-placed Sword Dancer claimed foul against Bill Shoemaker and Tomy Lee.  The two horses battled down the stretch and bumped.  The stewards judged that Sword Dancer was the aggressor rather than Tomy Lee.


In what was the roughest-riding Kentucky Derby of all time, known as the “Fighting Finish” and captured in the classic photo shown below, Don Meade and Broker’s Tip prevailed by the slimmest of margins.  Jockey Herb Fisher on runner-up Head Play claimed foul.


Jockey Jimmy Lakeland on runner-up Kimball claimed foul against the winner Fonso, ridden by George Lewis.

Jockey objections/steward inquiries that resulted in disqualification:


Second-placed Country House and jockey Flavien Pratt were elevated to first even though the ostensible winner Maximum Security, ridden by Luis Saez, did not interfere with Country House.  Rather, Maximum Security interfered with also-rans War of Will and Long Range Toddy.  Maximum Security was disqualified and placed seventeenth behind Long Range Toddy.  This was the only time a Kentucky Derby winner was disqualified for an in-race incident.


The stewards moved fourth-placed finisher Gate Dancer, with Eddie Delahoussaye aboard, to fifth place for stretch interference with Sandy Hawley and Fali Time.  The latter was moved to fourth place.  (Later that year, in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic, Gate Dancer was again disqualified, this time from second place and moved to third for bumping Slew o’ Gold in the stretch.)


Winner Dancer’s Image was disqualified when his post-race urinalysis detected phenylbutazone, a nonsteroidal inflammatory drug.  After extensive litigation, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the disqualification in April of 1972.

Copyright © 2021 Horse Racing Business


Author James C. Nicholson’s latest book Racing for America (University Press of Kentucky, 2021) immerses a reader in the “roaring twenties,” a tumultuous decade wedged between the devastation of World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic and the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

The twenties were a time for renewal and high-flying stocks bought with little collateral.  Americans generally rebelled against convention and flouted the Eighteenth Amendment by making bathtub gin and frequenting speakeasies.  Women were exercising their new legal right to vote and many were dancing the Charleston in skimpy flapper outfits that would have been scandalous only a few years before.

Americans were also treated to amazing new technologies like commercial radio.  KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was the first radio station, with its historic initial broadcast of the Cox-Harding presidential election of 1920.  As a result, it was soon possible for the masses to hear reports about the three major sports of the era–Major League Baseball, boxing, and horse racing.  The fledgling National Football League had been organized in Canton, Ohio, in 1920, but its immense popularity lay far in the future, and the National Basketball League was not founded until 1946.

In this milieu of hope and technological innovation, a horse race, a match race concocted by August Belmont II and featuring the recent Kentucky Derby and Epsom Derby winners, took place.  The equine dual captivated the peoples of the United States and Great Britain in the weeks and days leading up to the event on October 20, 1923 at New York’s Belmont Park. It was not the American Revolution redux, but it definitely stoked competitive juices in both nations, particularly since British bloodstock breeders widely considered American racehorses to be of uncertain and inferior heritage.

Nicholson, who has written three previous books with a horse racing theme, all with historical overlays, has masterfully chronicled the developments and potpourri of inimitable characters associated with the match race between 1923 Kentucky Derby winner Zev and 1923 Epsom Derby winner Papyrus.  He has done so within the context of the often-corrupt politics of the times, mainly because Harry F. Sinclair, the founder of Sinclair Oil and a key player in the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal, owned Zev. 

It is difficult today to imagine the fervor that a match race pitting champion 3-year-old colts from the United States and Great Britain would enflame in both countries.  But it did.  Even if a reader knows the race outcome in advance, knowing does not detract because accounts of interactions among trainers, jockeys, owners, the press, and commentators on both sides of the Atlantic keep the story moving along. 

Almost a hundred years later, the Zev-Papyrus race is still a compelling tale that until now was mostly lost in the passage of time.

Copyright © 2021 Horse Racing Business