Last week, I was chatting with a friend of mine, James "Bundy" Jenkins who is a local historian and retired school teacher. We normally shoot the breeze by talking Jayhawk basketball, Chiefs football or Royals baseball depending on the season, but that day he asked who I liked for the Kentucky Derby. I responded with some of the usual suspects-Union Rags, I’ll Have Another, El Padrino and sleeper, Welter Weight. His next question threw me off guard a little, “Have you ever heard of Lawrin?” Being familiar with most, if not all Derby contenders, I was surprised that Lawrin was not on my radar. I explained that I’d never heard of him & asked for more information, but I got the answer usual Bundy answer-“Look it up.” His advice never steers me wrong, so I did exactly that.
Turns out that Lawrin was not only the winner of the 1938 Kentucky Derby but, he’s the only Kansas-bred to ever win the run for the roses. Lawrin was raised at Woolford Farm, which is now the quaint, Kansas City suburb, Prairie Village. Owned and bred by local clothier, Herbert M. Woolf, Lawrin was sired by stakes-winner Insco, whom Woolf purchased for $500 at auction. He was able to get such a deal on Insco, due to a freak thunderstorm which forced most bidders inside, while Woolf braved the thunder and lightning to submit the winning bid. When Woolf paired Insco with, Woolford Farm’s blue-hen dam, Margaret Lawrence, a classic winner was born.
Before the Derby, Lawrin made 23 starts, and was seen as an outsider when sent off at $8.60-1 in the field of 10. Placed mid-pack in the early stages, Lawrin made his move on the final turn, opened up 3 lengths in mid-stretch and held on to score by a length over Dauber
. The ’38 Derby was the first for legendary jockey, Eddie Arcaro
and super-trainer, Ben A. Jones
. The 2 men teamed up for many wins over the years, including the 1941 & 1948 Derbies with Hall of Famers Whirlaway
. In fact, Citation’s sire, the popular Bull Lea
, was 8th in the 1938 run for the roses while being sent off as the $2.90-1 second choice.
After his racing career, Lawrin went off to stud, but could not reproduce Insco's success. Lawrin was laid to rest in 1955 next to his father, in what is now a cul-de-sac in Corinth Farms subdivision. A tribute is there that will let the memory of the most decorated Thoroughbred from the Sunflower State
live on. Though we don’t having racing at the moment, it was wonderful to find out that someone from our little state was able to reach the greatest peak in the greatest sport.
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Photos by Ron Moody & Bill Walker