03/13/2008 11:00PM

History challenge: Do you really know northern Kentucky racing?


Twenty-two years ago, Latonia Race Track changed its name to Turfway Park. The track is located about 10 miles southwest of the site of the original Latonia in Covington, Ky., which opened in 1883 and for many years in the early 20th century led the nation in purse distribution.

One of the premier races at the original course was the Latonia Derby, run in the weeks following the Kentucky Derby. Between 1883 and 1906, seven horses won both races.

The last Kentucky Derby winner to race in the Latonia Derby was Clyde Van Dusen, who lost at Latonia by a nose in 1929. Ten years later, Latonia was shuttered forever.

A new Latonia in Florence, Ky., opened in 1959. In 1972, general manager John Battaglia introduced the Spiral Stakes, in hopes of developing a race that would be used by 3-year-olds to "spiral up" to the classics.

The race changed names many times, but has succeeded in becoming a major prep to the Triple Crown races. As Turfway Park prepares for the 37th running Saturday of what is now called the Lanes End Stakes, test your knowledge of the long history of racing in northern Kentucky.

1. Like its modern-day counterpart, the Latonia Derby was originally run under another name - the Hindoo Stakes - after the winner of the 1881 Kentucky Derby. The inaugural running was on June 5, 1883, and featured the first three finishers in the previous month's Kentucky Derby.

The Derby's top three finishers ended up in the same order at Latonia, and did much to quickly elevate the importance of racing at the new track. The winner was undefeated in 10 races as a 3-year-old. Name him.

2. In 1913, Col. Edward R. Bradley paid the then-huge sum of $14,000 for an English-bred yearling whom he named Beachcomber.

Still winless at age 3, the horse was entered in the fourth race at Latonia on Oct. 11, 1915.

Beachcomber freaked at the sound of the starting bell and bolted going into the clubhouse turn. He then tossed his rider and landed on him, killing him instantly.

The death started a national movement, spearheaded by Bradley, to develop and eventually require the use of safety helmets by all riders. Name the jockey.

3. In 1919, the Latonia Championship Stakes was added to the fall schedule and soon became the most important and richest event offered by the northern Kentucky track.

There were several significant runnings of the Championship between 1919 and the final one in 1933, but none more important or richer ($61,000) than the 1923 edition. More than 40,000 people jammed into Latonia for that race, which grabbed national headlines when it produced an upset. Name the winner.

4. When the Spiral Stakes was introduced at new Latonia in 1972, it was little noticed. It took four years for a winner of the race to even start in the Kentucky Derby.

But things gradually improved. By 1984, when the race was run as the Jim Beam Stakes, it had achieved Grade 3 status. Four years later, it was elevated to Grade 2. Who was the first winner of this signature spring event to win a Triple Crown race?

5. When this Jim Beam winner captured the race in track-record time, he was so impressive that he was sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

His Jim Beam time of 1:46.60 was one of the fastest winning times for 1 1/8 miles ever run by a horse prepping for the Kentucky Derby.

But Derby history is filled with stories of top horses who inexplicably run up the track when favored in the Louisville classic. This Jim Beam winner was no exception. But when the year was over, he became the first Beam winner to be voted an Eclipse Award as the nation's top 3-year-old colt. Name him.