The solid gold trophy that will be presented to the winning owner of the 3-year-old that wins this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) arrived March 29 at Churchill Downs. It was the first step on busy schedule of special appearances before the trophy’s big moment in the winner’s circle following 137th Run for the Roses May 7.
The Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy was displayed along with three smaller sterling silver trophies that go to the winning trainer, jockey, and breeder at a media briefing at Churchill Downs following their early afternoon arrival at the home of the Kentucky Derby. The trophies were created by New England Sterling of Attleboro, Mass., and were delivered to the historic track by Marc Forbes, the company’s president, and Richard Powers, the president and CEO of the Precious Metals Division of the Cookson Group, the parent company of New England Sterling.
“It is absolutely priceless,” Forbes said. “This trophy is something that you can’t buy. You have to win this particular item to acquire it.”
Forbes and Powers wore white gloves as they moved the trophies from their boxes to a display table as members of the media looked on at the formal unveiling of the trophies in Churchill’s Directors Room.
“We start manufacturing this trophy sometime in the early fall, and we spend about 2,000 man hours making this trophy,” Forbes said. “It’s made up of some 29 different parts that represent 19 different components to the trophy. We utilize a number of different manufacturing processes. We use a casting process, a spinning process, and a stamping process. The entire trophy is made of 14-karat gold, but three of the components are made of 14-karat green gold.”
The design of the coveted Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy dates to 1924, when it was presented to Black Gold, the winner of the Golden Anniversary Derby. New England Sterling manufactured the trophy for Louisville jeweler Lemon & Son from 1975-1999, and has supplied the trophy directly to Churchill Downs since 1999.
“We have 16 different artisans that touch this trophy during the manufacturing process,” Forbes said. “This is the crown jewel of our company. The Kentucky Derby trophy is a work of passion for us – we love doing what we do. We love participating in such a great event.”
The solid gold trophy will make several stops throughout the community over the next few weeks at events leading up to the 137th Kentucky Derby. Among those events is the second annual “Taste of Derby” May 5 at Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center.
Displayed alongside the Kentucky Derby trophies were jewelry items that are part of the first Kentucky Derby Trophy Collection. That limited collection was also created by New England Sterling, which used the small amount gold left over from the manufacture of the Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy to fashion the gold and silver items offered in the new collection.
“Anyone who acquires a piece of the jewelry will own a piece of this year’s Kentucky Derby trophy,” Forbes said. “We have taken a small amount of gold that is left over from the manufacturing process and we have taken that gold and fashioned it into the pieces of jewelry in this very limited collection.”
The Kentucky Derby Trophy Collection pieces include a necklace, pendant, hat pin, key tag, money clip, cufflinks, lapel pin, tie tac, and charm bracelet. The collection’s items range in price from $200-$500 and can be purchased online at http://www.kentuckyderbytrophycollection.com.