05/20/2011 10:02AM

Dianne Carpenter dead at 68, only female trainer to have two Derby starters


Dianne Carpenter, the only woman to saddle two starters in the Kentucky Derby, died earlier this month in Biloxi, Mississippi. She was 68.

Carpenter died on May 4 from cancer, according to trainer Garry Simms, who worked as an assistant for her before starting his own training career.
Carpenter’s two Derby starters came in the 1980’s when she was a regular at Churchill Downs: Biloxi Indian, who ran 12th behind Swale in the 1984 Derby, and Kingpost, who finished 14th to Winning Colors in the 1988 Derby.

“She was a very intelligent woman, a very good trainer,” Simms recalled.

Carpenter ran a stable at Churchill Downs from the late 1970s through the late 1980s, and won three stakes locally.

Her best-known horse was Kingpost, who won the Grade 2 Jim Beam Stakes in 1988 and who would later finish second to Risen Star that year in the Belmont.

“You know how hard it was for a woman to train in the 1980s – it’s tough now in the 2000s – and she was very good,” Simms said.

Carpenter was a teacher before becoming a trainer, and Simms said she also taught after leaving racing. She owned some of the horses she trained, including Biloxi Indian, who carried her Sundance Stable colors.