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Racing At The Jersey Shore

Time Out from the Derby Trail to Talk about Collecting Derby Memories

Kentucky Derby Glasses
The Kentucky Derby Trail began on January 7, 2012, with the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct and the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. Alpha and Out of Bounds won those two races and Alpha has managed to survive the rigors of the Derby Trail and will probably start in the Run to the Roses.
 
There have been 29 graded Derby prep races run in 2012. Countless blogs, articles, and Derby Top 10 lists have been written. With less than three weeks remaining until the 20 horses are loaded into the staring gate at Churchill Downs just about every topic has been covered, except for one.
 
Each year on the morning of the Kentucky Derby my son and I jump in the car and drive to Monmouth Park. Even though I could place my bets through NJBets or at the nearby Favorites OTB facility we still drive to the track because that is where I can buy the annual Kentucky Derby glass.
 
Enough speculation about which horses will have enough graded stakes earnings to make the field or about who will be the post time favorite. Just how many Kentucky Derby glasses do you own?  I have a multi-generational collection with glasses that I have purchased and others that I inherited from my wife’s grandfather.  Let’s take a time out from the Derby trail to talk about collecting Derby memories.
 
The very familiar shape of the Derby mint julep glass first appeared in 1948, and has retained the same size and shape since then. Each year the glass has a new design and the list of Derby winners is updated to include the previous year. (Get the Churchill Downs mint julep recipe.)
 
However, Kentucky Derby glasses originated in 1938, as water glasses that were put on the tables in the track dining rooms. People took those glasses home as souvenirs of their day at the Derby and so began this collectible craze. In the first 10 years, they were made of either aluminum to reduce the chance of broken glass at the track or from the plastic, bakelite, during World War II when metal was reserved for usage in the war. There was a void in 1946 and 1947, because there was no design on the glasses making them unidentifiable.
 
From 1938 to 1952, production of Derby glasses never got higher then 100,000.  As the souvenir glasses grew in popularity so did production. 250,000 were made in 1966, and then 400,000 in 1974. Today, approximately 700,000 are produced and now they are available at sites all around the country. Watch this {video} from the Kentucky Derby Museum about collecting Derby glasses.
 
A search at the online auction site Ebay showed 1,576 listings for “Kentucky Derby glasses” with asking prices of $14,999 for a 1940 model to a mere dollar or two for the more recent high production versions.  On Ebay, Derby glasses are more popular than the 1,253 items listed for “horse racing pins”, 1,163 “Secretariat” collectibles, 872 “horse racing programs”, or even 684 for “Zenyatta”.
 
The glasses are souvenirs of the great moments in Kentucky Derby history going back to 1948. The current style of Derby glasses began that year, which was also when Citation became the 8th Triple Crown winner.  On Ebay that glass has bids ranging from $61 to $325.
 
The 1953 version would be a great Derby glass to own.  That’s the year that Native Dancer was defeated by Dark Star for his only loss in 22 starts, marking what had to be the greatest upset in Derby history. 
 
The 1968 Derby was the most controversial Derby in history. That is the race when Peter Fuller’s Dancer's Image won the race after an amazing run from last place, but was found to have had traces of phenylbutazone in the post race testing. Calumet’s Forward Pass was declared the winner after Dancer’s Image was disqualified and placed last. Enjoy this {video} from the New Hampshire Chronicle about Fuller and Dancer’s Image.  The 1968 glass is offered up on Ebay for between $9.99 and $42.00. 
 
1974 marked the 100th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby. It was also the first glass that showed Secretariat’s Derby and Triple Crown victories. In that year there was an error in the Derby glass. A first batch of 450,000 glasses was made with the 1971 winner listed as Canonero. Another 450,000 corrected glasses were made that said Canonero II, which is of course is his official name. I have both glasses in my collection.
 
If you want the glass for Seattle Slew victory should you collect the 1977 glass for the year of his win or the 1978 glass which first lists Slew’s Derby win and Triple Crown designation?  Of course the 1978 glass brings you to Affirmed’s Derby win and his Triple Crown. A serious collector would certainly own both.
 
The 1988 glass, which marked the 114th Kentucky Derby is decorated with a horse that is wearing silks and blinkers with the famed blue and white diamonds of the Meadow Stable. That year Winning Colors won the race and Alysheba’s victory from the previous year is listed.
 
Collecting is so much fun because behind each souvenir glass there is a story and memories from the Kentucky Derby.  Do you own a souvenir of Barbaro, Sunday Silence, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid, or Charismatic’s great wins on the first Saturday in May? Which glasses do you own and what are the stories that go with your collection? 

 

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Older Comments about Time Out from the Derby Trail to Talk about Collecting Derby Memories...

I got 24 glasses and im still collecting and two of them are triple crown winners and they are my fave
Have all the Derby glasses from the 1940 aluminum to present except for the bakelites. Derby programs from 1921 on.
i got a mint 1964 program if ya want it email me
The man, winwinwin, must know his sh*t, LOL!
How sure are you it is genuine?
I have Ruffian horse poop that I bought from a guy in the parking lot at Belmont. it must be worth more than a Derby glass ?
I drank from all of them and sold them at the next garage sale for .25 each
Ah...Derby memories. They are wonderful....what I remember, anyway. ;) If I remember correctly, I have Derby glasses from 1959-present.
Yes Andy. I have large cabinets with glass doors and shelves. I use the acrylic spice holders you can get from Amazon etc. to form three deep of rows of six glasses. The spice racks allow each glass to be seen in a slightly elevated position. I try and group my glasses, such Florida Derby, Hambletonian, Adios, Santa Anita Handicap etc
buckpasser, do you have a good way of displaying them or your favorites?
Yes Andy I do have all Derby glasses from 1948. I have some of the rare variations of the 1956 glass. And am working on collecting the aluminum glass which 1940 vintage. Those are hard to find. I hate to say but I also have all the Preakness and Belmont glasses aas well. I have numerous ones from old tracks like Miles Park and Commodore Downs. My racing glass collection is one of my passions.
Had Secretariat's Triple crwon programs but could not turn down the price a fellow offered a few years back....Still have a few other things
A couple years ago I paid $80.00 for a 1945 "tall" derby glass at an estate auction, then lost my job and sold it for $1026.00. They can be very valuable!
Some of you give me collection envy! buckpasser, do you all the glasses from 1948 and up?
I also collect glasses from all tracks both harness and thoriughbred. My derby collection goes back to 1948. Am trying to find rare glasses in the derby.
i collect glasses from all tracks,broke a hialeah wine gobblet,i went on ebay and their webste but no luck finding another one,also looking for a x-large hialeah t-shirt
I love Derby Glasses! My collection dates back to 1964 (with the exception of 1970). I started collecting when I worked at Churchill Downs in the late 90's and never stopped. My favorite designs include: '64, '74,'77, and '85. But my favorite glass may be 1982. That year my parents sat on Millionaire's Row - their first and only time. A sticky Derby Glass was my souvenir from their special day. I carried that glass around until I dropped it. I was broken-hearted! I carry my 1982 replacement very carefully!
I have about a dozen - I try to get one every year - Woodbine ususally sells them at an outrageous price, then drops the price in half about a month or two after the Derby.
I have a scattered collection of glasses from the 80's, 90's and 2000's, some I got at the Derby, some I received from friends & a mysterious paper deliveryman, and still others I found at Goodwills, antique shops & swap meets. It's about the chase - spying a dusty julep glass in a case full of jelly jars, for instance - and enjoying the artwork on them that is so unique to the eras they were made. Plus, it's got a horse on it!

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Meet Matt Shifman

In the 70’s I was another one of those kids that went to the track with their fathers, and I immediately became enthralled with the excitement and challenges of handicapping.  And then the charisma and dominance of Secretariat gave me a hero to follow. To this day, I still get emotional when I hear Chic Anderson’s call of the 1973 Belmont, “Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine”.

 
There have been many great horses run at the shore. In 1976 I watched Majestic Light win the Monmouth Invitational, now the Haskell, in track record time, defeating Honest Pleasure, the big favorite who was in from New York.  This was one of my first big wins at the track.
 
In the 80’s, as a disciple of Andy Beyer, I made my own speed figures because they were not available to the public. Needless to say I visited Monmouth frequently to test out the “figs”.
 
The 90’s allowed me to learn about the backstretch as a part owner of a few claimers that were stabled at Philadelphia Park.  Not a typical owner, I mucked stalls, cooled out the horses, and watched morning works.  Also, I met my wife and discovered that her grandfather bred, owned, and raced thoroughbreds on the West Virginia, Maryland circuit.  Today our office is decorated with winner’s circle pictures and a vast collection of Kentucky Derby glasses.
 
Today’s electronic age makes it so easy to gather information about racing.  I hope you use this blog to learn about Racing at the Jersey Shore.