11/18/2011 4:56PM

Before Breeders' Cup, Kentucky Jockey Club was major target for juveniles


There was a time when the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, first run at Churchill Downs in 1920, played a significant role in determining the champion 2-year-old of the season.

But, the advent of the Breeders’ Cup series in 1984 changed the role and positioning on the calendar of numerous fall stakes races from coast to coast.

Three years after the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was run, Churchill moved the Kentucky Jockey Club to the final weekend of its fall meeting and the race has been primarily contested by late-developing or lightly raced 2-year-olds.

Nonetheless, the event is closely watched by Triple Crown followers because it is run around two turns and takes place on the same oval where the coveted Kentucky Derby will be run five months later.

With the 85th running of the Jockey Club set for next Saturday, test your knowledge of the history of this noted stakes.

1. The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes was named for the holding company that operated Churchill Downs from 1918-1928.

While the track was still looked down on by many of the elite in the Eastern racing establishment, few of them could deny that the inaugural running of the Kentucky Jockey Club in 1920 was nothing short of first class.

The winner was unanimously acclaimed champion 2-year-old male; the second-place finisher went on to win the Belmont Stakes; and the third-place horse proceeded to win the Kentucky Derby. Name the three horses.

2. Matt Winn, the man credited with developing the Kentucky Derby into the country’s most important race, did not have to wait long for a winner of his premier race for 2-year-olds to wear the blanket of roses at his most prized race.

In a four-year period, three Kentucky Jockey Club winners went on to capture the Derby. They included Reigh Count in the 1928 Derby and the gelding Clyde Van Dusen the following season.

But, the 1930 running of the Kentucky Jockey Club (run in 1:36 flat – believed to be the fastest mile ever run to that time by a 2-year-old) produced not only the winner of the 1931 Kentucky Derby, but two horses who were destined to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Name the two horses.

3. Since its inception, the Kentucky Jockey Club has been open to 2-year-olds of both sexes. Fillies have had some degree of success over the years, including Startle, who won the second running in 1921 and went on to finish eighth in the Kentucky Derby the following season.
But the most impressive showing came in back-to-back years (1933-1934) when not only were both Jockey Club winners fillies, but both went on to be acclaimed champion of their sex in their juvenile seasons.

These fillies were so talented that each came back the following spring to compete in the Kentucky Derby – and one was the post time favorite in the Louisville classic. Name the two champion fillies.

4. The 1953 crop of juveniles was so strong that the winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes that year wound up without a national championship even though he had won more money ($277,132) than any 2-year-old in history.

The following year, he won the Derby Trial four days before the Kentucky Derby, but finished second in the Derby to a horse he had beaten in the Trial. Name the two colts.

5. In 2010, Super Saver became only the second Kentucky Jockey Club winner since 1931 to capture the Kentucky Derby. The colt gave Calvin Borel his third Derby win in four years, making him the ninth rider in history to win three or more runnings of the Churchill Downs classic.

Who was the only horse to take down the Jockey Club-Derby double in the nearly eight decades from 1932-2009?

Answers below

1. The inaugural Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in 1920 featured one of the most talented group of horses ever to go postward in the race.
The winner was undefeated Tryster from the powerful stable of Harry Payne Whitney. The colt shipped to Louisville after winning all five of his starts in New York. At year’s end, he was acclaimed champion 2-year-old male.

One length behind Tryster was Grey Lag, from another powerhouse stable, the Rancocas Stud of oil tycoon Harry F. Sinclair. Third in the field of six was Col. Edward R. Bradley’s horse Behave Yourself.

Tryster and his stablemate Prudery were favored at 6-5 in the 1921 Kentucky Derby, but were bested by the Bradley entry of Behave Yourself and Black Servant, who finished one-two at 8-1. It was the first of Bradley’s four Kentucky Derby winners.

Grey Lag was scratched from the Derby on the day of the race due to a leg bruise, but came back to win the Belmont Stakes and be named Horse of the Year.

2. In the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Oct. 16, 1930, Twenty Grand and Equipoise battled head and head the entire length of the Churchill Downs stretch, with Twenty Grand prevailing by a nose. Daily Racing Form’s John Hervey called it “the greatest race that 2-year-olds have ever run in this country.”

In the Kentucky Derby the following season, Equipoise was entered but scratched due to sore feet. Twenty Grand won the classic by four lengths, paying $3.76 to win. (Churchill Downs parimutuel payoffs were computed to the penny from 1928-1933.)

Twenty Grand proceeded to win the Travers Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup, among others, and was acclaimed 1931 Horse of the Year.
Equipoise went on to the more illustrious career, being named champion older horse three years running (1932-1934) and Horse of the Year in 1932 and 1933.

Both colts are now enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

3. Mati Hari won three of the richest races offered for 2-year-olds in 1933, and ended the year with $55,364 in earnings. She was co-champion at year’s end.

Among her victories were the Arlington Lassie, Breeders’ Futurity, and Kentucky Jockey Club – the last two against males. (The Breeders’ Futurity and Kentucky Jockey Club were both run at old Latonia in northern Kentucky from 1931-1933.)

The following season, Mati Hari ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby at 6-1, but won the Illinois Derby and Illinois Oaks, to again be acclaimed champion.

Nellie Flag was out of the broodmare Nellie Morse, who won the Preakness in 1924. Nellie Flag won the Matron, Selima, and Kentucky Jockey Club in 1934 and was acclaimed champion juvenile filly.

The following season, Nellie Flag went to post the 7-2 favorite in the Kentucky Derby. Under the great Eddie Arcaro, riding in his first Derby, the filly finished fourth.

4. Kentucky Jockey Club winner Hasty Road lost the 2-year-old crown in 1953 to Porterhouse.

After defeating Determine in the 1954 Derby Trial, Hasty Road finished second to that gray colt in the Kentucky Derby four days later.
Determine, who had run 14 times as a 2-year-old – all in California – skipped the Preakness.

In Baltimore, Hasty Road finished second in the Preakness Prep to Correlation – who had been favored in the Derby – but turned around and beat that colt in the Preakness Stakes later that week.

Coincidentally, Correlation had run 14 times as a 2-year-old – all in California.

5. Twenty-three horses – the most ever – went postward in the 100th running of the Kentucky Derby in 1974. Much of the attention was focused on Judger, winner of the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

Judger was coupled in the wagering with Cannonade, both being trained by Hall of Famer Woody Stephens, and the entry was 3-2 at post time.

The best Judger could do was close from 22nd to eighth. Cannonade closed from 12th to win going away. The victory made the colt 3 for 3 at Churchill Downs. A week earlier, he had captured the opening-day Stepping Stone Purse and the previous fall, he was a comfortable winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.