In and of itself, the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is a history-making event. Those that win it join the rarified air of a very select few, and their names live on long after they are gone.
Three owners in this year’s edition of the Run for the Roses, however, have the chance to join an even more exclusive club—those that have won multiple editions of the Derby. Only a dozen entities can lay claim to that achievement in the 138 years that the Derby has been run, and there have been just two repeat victors in the last 40 years—the Chenery family’s Meadow Stable in 1972 and 1973 (Riva Ridge and Secretariat) and Robert and Beverly Lewis, who accomplished the feat with Silver Charm in 1997 and Charismatic two years later.
“I suppose it’s feasible, but unlikely. It stretches the level of credulity,” noted Barry Irwin, who will go for the gold this year with Went the Day Well after winning last year’s edition with Animal Kingdom. Both race under Irwin’s Team Valor International banner. Went the Day Well, like Animal Kingdom, enters the Derby following a win in the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III).
Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm also seeks to piggyback on its recent success, having seen homebred Super Saver get home first in 2010 at odds of 8-1. WinStar’s Gemologist will be the lone undefeated horse entering this year’s starting gate, and his odds figure to be less than Super Saver’s after his rousing victory in the Wood Memorial (gr. I). He has already won at Churchill in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II).
It’s been 11 years since John Oxley’s Monarchos shocked the Derby in 2001 at 10-1. Oxley is back this time around with Prospective, the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) winner who has taken half of his eight races to date.
The all-time leading Derby winner is Calumet Farm, and its margin is impressive. Calumet has taken home eight Derby trophies beginning with homebred Whirlaway in 1941. Three years later, homebred Pensive was draped in roses, and in 1948 Citation joined the club, defeating Calumet’s Coaltown in the process. Ponder won it the following year. Hill Gail continued the tradition in 1952, followed by Iron Liege and his nose victory over Gallant Man in 1957. Tim Tam continued the tradition the following season, and Forward Pass was put up to victory following the disqualification of Dancer’s Image in 1968.
Col. E.R. Bradley’s Idle Hour Stock Farm won the Derby on four occasions, beginning in 1921 with Behave Yourself. Five years later Bubbling Over took the roses, and in 1932 it was Burgoo King. Brokers Tip was Bradley’s fourth Derby winner. Bradley’s 28 starts in the classic are the most of any owner.
William Woodward’s Belair Stud compiled an impressive percentage, winning the Derby with three of its eight starters. Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935 turned the trick, and they were joined by Johnstown in 1939.
Besides Meadow and the Lewises, six other entities have won a pair of Derbys. George Long’s Bashford Manor Stable celebrated Azra in 1892 and Sir Huon in 1906. Harry Payne Whitney’s Regret took the 1915 edition while his Whiskery won in 1927. The Whitney family’s Greentree Stable got the job done in 1931 with Twenty Grand and again in 1942 with Shut Out. Mrs. John D. Hertz had three Derby starters, and won with two of them: Reigh Count in 1928 and Count Fleet in 1943.
Robert Kleberg’s famed King Ranch got to the winner’s circle in 1946 with Assault and again in 1950 with Middleground. Darby Dan Farm, under the ownership of John W. Galbreath, saw Chateaugay win in 1963 and Proud Clarion in 1967.