11/20/2009 12:00AM

History Challenge answers


1. Col. Clark may have been the brains behind the founding of the Louisville Jockey Club, but his uncles, John and Henry Churchill, were the entrepreneurs who owned the land and help put together the investors needed to pay for the track.

The grossly obese and flamboyant Clark spent lavishly on food and alcohol for himself and others. Under his leadership, the track never ended a year in which it showed a profit.

Locals knew who was paying the bills for the track and began to sarcastically refer to it as "Churchill's Downs," the second part coming from Epsom Downs in England. In 1883, the local press picked up on the name (dropping the 's) and began calling the track, "Churchill Downs." The name was not officially incorporated until 1937.

2. By the end of the 1800s, Col. Clark's extravagant lifestyle was catching up with him. He weighed more than 300 pounds and suffered with frequent bouts of dyspepsia and depression. He had long ago separated from his wife and children - giving his entire life to the racetrack - and lost much of his savings in the Panic of 1893.

Churchill Downs was sold in 1894, and Clark was left with only the job of presiding judge at the track he founded.

While serving as presiding judge at the races in Memphis, Tenn., Clark returned to his room at Gaston's Hotel on April 22, 1899, put a gun to his head and ended his life. He was 53. Twelve days later, the Kentucky Derby celebrated its 25th running.

3. Since the race known as the Clark was opened to older horses in 1902, only four Kentucky Derby winners have captured the event - and none did it as a 3-year-old.

Old Rosebud, winner of the 1914 Derby, won the Clark at age 6, after having not raced at ages 4 and 5. Fabled Exterminator, winner of the 1918 Derby, won the Clark at age 7, the only time he competed in the event. Triple Crown winner Whirlaway won the Clark at age 4 in 1942.

The most recent Derby-Clark winner was Silver Charm, who won the races in back-to-back years (1997-98).

4. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is no stranger to entering females against males. He has done so over the years with numerous champions, including Life's Magic and Winning Colors. In 2000, Lukas entered the 3-year-old filly Surfside in the Clark Handicap against older males. Under jockey Pat Day, the filly took the lead from the start and coasted to the wire four lengths in front.

In her previous start, Surfside had finished second against older females in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. At year end, she was voted the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly.

Surfside was the second 3-year-old filly to win the Clark, after Fairway Flyer in 1972.

5. Plaudit, who parlayed his nose win in the Derby to an easier win in the Clark Stakes in 1898, had campaigned as a juvenile in New York.

In an overnight race open to all ages at Gravesend Racetrack in Brooklyn, the 2-year-old Plaudit (under 90 pounds) went off at 40-1 and upset a field that included 4-year-old Ben Brush (126 pounds), who had won the 1896 Kentucky Derby.

While not the norm, races open to horses of all ages were much more common in the 1800s. They gradually fell out of favor, but stakes for all ages were still being contested as late as the 1970s.

One of the most important victories by a 2-year-old over older horses came in the inaugural Fall Highweight Handicap at Belmont Park in 1914. The 2-year-old filly Comely beat older males and is still remembered today by the New York Racing Association with a stakes race run in her name.

The Fall Highweight, known as the Autumn Highweight in its early years, was open to all ages until 1958.