Jockey Gary Stevens, who will ride Mor Spirit in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, once told Jennie Rees that he believes in Derby
Destiny and the winners were picked a long time ago. Whether it’s luck or
superstition, owners and trainers have seen their own signs during the Triple
Crown campaign, both good and bad.
Gato Del Sol (1982):
Arthur and Staci Hancock were on their way to Keeneland to see Tap Shoes run
in the Blue Grass when a black cat crossed their path. Staci yelled for Arthur
to stop, but Arthur ignored the warning. Tap Shoes ended up being scratched
after two inches of rain. One year later, the Hancocks were leaving dinner
before Gato Del Sol’s run in the Kentucky Derby when a black cat crossed their
path again. This time, Arthur heeded Staci’s warning, backed up, and drove down
a one way street the wrong direction to avoid crossing the cat’s path. He was
pulled over, but the officer let him off after explaining last year’s black cat
experience and Gato Del Sol became the 1982 winner of the Kentucky Derby.
Sunday Silence (1989): Just a couple days
before Sunday Silence’s run in the Kentucky Derby, Hancock was on the
backstretch of Churchill Downs when he picked up a penny that was heads-up and minted in 1982. He
thought it might be a sign that Sunday Silence was supposed to win, since 1982
was Gato Del Sol’s year. Sure enough, Sunday Silence was the first to cross the
wire in the Kentucky Derby before he took the Preakness as well. The night
before the Belmont, Hancock saw two moths at the top of the World Trade Center.
Sunday Silence finished second, and to Hancock it seemed as if the two moths
represented the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
Real Quiet (1998)
& Point Given (2001): After winning both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness with
Real Quiet, Bob Baffert was driving to his hotel when a black cat ran in front of him. Baffert
continued on his way and Real Quiet lost the Belmont by a nose. Looking back on
it, Baffert says he should have turned around and gone another way. In 2001,
Point Given was the Kentucky Derby favorite. The morning of the race, a black
cat ran across the track and Point Given finished fifth.
California Chrome (2014): The California-bred
chestnut received his name from his white blaze and four white socks. Since
white hooves are not supposed to be as strong as black hooves, four of them are
not generally considered good among horsemen. Despite the fact, California
Chrome proved he was able to overcome and won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
His owners at the time, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, didn’t want to change anything during Chrome’s Triple Crown campaign after
their Derby luck. Chrome’s Kentucky Derby saddle cloth for morning works
originally read “Califorina Chrome” and the owners asked for a misspelled saddle
cloth at the Preakness and Belmont, which they received for good luck along
with one spelled correctly for the races. Coburn also wore the same suit during
all three Triple Crown races.