The recently-discovered trophy awarded to Sam Riddle after War Admiral won the 1937 Kentucky Derby.

The recently-discovered trophy awarded to Sam Riddle after War Admiral won the 1937 Kentucky Derby.

Ruidoso Downs

War Admiral's Kentucky Derby Trophy Found

The Kentucky Derby Museum has located War Admiral's 1937 Kentucky Derby Gold Cup Trophy, and it will be loaned to the museum for its Kentucky Derby Gold Cup exhibition in 2010.

The Triple Crown winner's Derby trophy was privately purchased in November 2006 by R. D Hubbard, owner of Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, for an undisclosed price. The trophy is currently on display at Ruidoso Downs.

"We're truly honored to have this artifact of American racing history to display to the public," Hubbard said. "We are anxious for the War Admiral trophy to be part of the 25th anniversary Kentucky Derby Gold Cup Trophy exhibition in 2010. Our mission is racing education and preserving the sport we all cherish."

The trophy, previously stored in the vault of a precious metals dealer in Philadelphia, has not been on display to the public since its purchase at an auction in 1951. War Admiral’s owner, Sam Riddle, asked that his collections be sold at auction upon his death to raise funds for the construction of a hospital in Philadelphia.

The Kentucky Derby Museum received a trophy labeled as that of “War Admiral” as part of the Churchill Downs Collection prior to opening in 1984. The collection does not include history or origins of the pieces in the collection, but the Museum was told that the trophy had been restored after purchase in a pawnshop. Churchill Downs had displayed the War Admiral trophy since 1962.

The Museum discovered that the trophy in the collection may not be authentic in June 2004. At that time, the Museum's curator, Jay Ferguson, traveled to Philadelphia to view a trophy which the owner identified as that of War Admiral. The Museum entered into a confidentiality agreement with the owner, agreeing not to disclose information or the whereabouts of this trophy, in hopes that he would consider giving the trophy to the Museum.

The Museum pulled the mystery War Admiral trophy from the exhibit upon learning the new information, but the mystery remains… Whose trophy is it? Was this trophy awarded in the Winner's Circle or is it a duplicate?

The Kentucky Derby Museum is still searching for eight unlocated trophies of the current design, first given in 1924. During this research, the Museum has discovered multiple copies of the trophies. The Museum is also looking for two trophies of a different design given in the previous years of 1922 and 1923.

1924-- Black Gold
1929-- Clyde Van Dusen
1936-- Bold Venture
1947-- Jet Pilot
1951-- Count Turf
1962-- Decidedly
1986-- Ferdinand
2002-- War Emblem

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Kentucky Derby Museum in 2010, a special exhibit will feature Kentucky Derby Gold Cups on loan from owners all over the world.