On This Day...
Photo: The Blood-Horse Library
Count Fleet in the Kentucky Derby
April 17, 1943
Count Fleet

Four days after winning at Jamaica in his 3-year-old debut, Count Fleet was all primed for his final Kentucky Derby prep in the April 17 Wood Memorial Stakes.

Count Fleet, who was assigned an unprecedented 132 pounds on the previous year's Experimental Free Handicap, took the lead after a spirited battle in the early going with Blue Swords in the 1 1/16-mile Wood Memorial.

"In less than a quarter-mile he was in front, then drawing clear, then drawing away," The Blood-Horse wrote. "After a half-mile he was four lengths in front, and Johnny Longden took him in hand. Blue Swords continued doggedly in pursuit, though he closed no ground, and at the head of the stretch Atkinson went to the whip. Longden took a tighter hold, thereby probably saving the Jamaica track record, for Count Fleet came to the finish in 1:43, missing the record by only two-fifths of a second. Blue Swords was nearly four lengths away, and the rest of the field seemed outclassed."

Count Fleet, a son of 1928 Derby winner Reigh Count, went on to became the sixth Triple Crown winner.

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