Sweetnorthernsaint Could Join Ranks of Geldings that Won Derby

Sweetnorthernsaint Could Join Ranks of Geldings that Won Derby
Photo: Mike Corrado
Funny Cide, one of eight geldings to win the Kentucky Derby.
If Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner Sweetnorthernsaint wins this year's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), he would join elite company of eight geldings who have previously won the spring classic.

Though there have been horses of various shapes, sizes, and colors to win the Derby, there have been some distinct patterns among those winners over the years that handicappers might find of interest in light of the approaching 132nd Run for the Roses.

In terms of gender, 119 colts, eight geldings, and three fillies have won the Derby. The fillies to capture the race were Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980), and Winning Colors (1988). The latter two fillies were the only females to compete in all three Triple Crown races.

Geldings to win the Derby were Vagrant (1876); Apollo (1882); Macbeth II (1888); Old Rosebud (1914); Exterminator (1918); Paul Jones (1920); Clyde Van Dusen (1929); and Funny Cide, who captured the race in 2003.

A son of Distorted Humor  , Funny Cide had three wins prior to the Derby, two of them stakes. He prepped for the Run for the Roses with a second place effort in the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct.

Funny Cide, who captured the Preakness (gr. I) by an impressive 9 3/4 lengths, ran third in the Belmont (gr. I). He went on to win two other graded stakes after the Derby: the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont in the fall of his 4-year-old campaign. Funny Cide, an earner of more than $3 million, is still racing, though he has been winless in his last seven starts.

This year, Folklore and Wild Fit were the only two fillies nominated for the Triple Crown, but neither will be racing at Churchill Downs on May 6. The last filly to capture the Derby was Eugene Klein's Winning Colors, who was one of 22 horses and the only female to go wire-to-wire in the race. The roan filly was also the only one of her color to ever win a Derby, with five others being gray and three officially listed as gray/roan. Ridden by jockey Gary Stevens, the daughter of Caro dominated a field of 16 males. Prior to her Derby win in 1988, she was a dual grade I winner and had only lost one of her six starts.

Leading up to the race that made her a millionaire, Winning Colors was a dual grade I winner in the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Oaks. Previous to those races, she placed second in the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I), and won the La Centinela Stakes, also at the California track.

Winning Colors never returned to top form after the Derby, as she was winless in her next seven starts, including a third place finish in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. During her 4-year-old campaign, an allowance race at Saratoga and the $50,000 Turfway Budweiser Breeders' Cup Handicap at Turfway Park served as Winning Colors' two final wins before retiring from racing to become a broodmare.

Winning Colors' third foal, group II-placed Golden Colors (by Mr. Prospector), earned $509,963 in Japan. In addition to Golden Colors, Winning Colors has produced four other winners. She produced an Orientate filly in February after being barren for seven years.

Like Winning Colors, Bert Firestone's Genuine Risk only lost once in her seven starts before the 1980 Derby, where she grabbed the lead with a quarter-mile to run, holding it to the finish to humble 12 male competitors at odds of 13-1. Winning two stakes at Aqueduct, then the Run for the Roses, she went on to capture the Ruffian Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park before retiring from racing.

Genuine Risk finished all of her career starts in the money, including a second-place effort in the Preakness, where she endured a rough trip of being bumped and hit with another jockey's whip. She also ran second in the Belmont, which gave her the best finish by a filly in all three Triple Crown races.

After 13 years of trying to get in foal, Genuine Risk produced a colt, Genuine Reward, by Rahy in 1993, followed by another colt, Count Our Blessing, by Chief Honcho in 1996. Both colts were unraced.

In 1915, the Derby had its first filly champion, Regret, who beat out the largest Derby field ever and was one of 18 undefeated starters to ever start in the race.

Regret, owned by financier, socialite, sportsman, and horse breeder Harry Payne Whitney, became the lone female to win the Derby until Genuine Risk's victory 65 years later. That race was said to signal the beginning of the Derby's modern era. Matt Winn, a former Louisville tailor and Churchill Downs's longtime vice president and general manager, noted that Regret's victory "made the Kentucky Derby an American institution."

Regret went on to produce four winning foals, though none captured a stakes race or performed at her level of achievement.

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