If you take a look at the Kentucky
Derby times through the years, it is easy to see that the horses have gotten
faster. The first Kentucky Derby was run in 1875 at Churchill Downs at a distance of 1 1/2 miles. In 1896, the distance was shortened
to 1 1/4 miles. The times listed here are the 10 slowest editions of the race
since the 1 1/4 miles distance was implemented. Even though most of the times
have gotten faster over the years, the last few editions of the race may
indicate that Kentucky Derby 2016 could be a bit slower.
1.) Stone Street, 1908, 2:15.20: Stone Street had not won any major stakes before
his Kentucky Derby win, nor did he win any major stakes after. The 1908
Kentucky Derby was a muddy one, and as the other seven horses failed to
perform their best, Stone Street excelled. He went off at odds of 24-1, and the
minimum $5 bet cashed $123.60 to win.
2.) Pink Star, 1907, 2:12.60:
Another sloppy track and another longshot. Pink Star ran on a Churchill track
where the horses were in mud up to their fetlocks. He was retired the following
year because of his bad temperament and lackluster races.
3.) Typhoon II, 1897, 2:12.50:
Typhoon II was bred in Tennessee and beat the Derby favorite on a muddy track.
His performance level fell after his three year old year and he eventually
retired to a farm in Lexington as a pensioner. When his owner demanded the
trainer to dispose of the horse because the paddock was needed for something
else, the trainer gave him to a friend, who used him as a cart horse pulling
hay for livestock.
4.) Manuel, 1899, 2:12.00:
Manuel was bred in Louisville, Kentucky at Bashford Manor Stable. He missed the
rest of his three-year-old year after stepping in a hole on Churchill Downs’
track. He faced only four other horses in the Derby.
5.) Exterminator, 1918, 2:10.80: Willis Sharpe Kilmer bought the gelding
Exterminator to work alongside his two-year-old champion colt Sun Briar, who
was to run in the Kentucky Derby. Kilmer often referred to Exterminator as
"the goat," even though the gelding would run right with Sun Briar in
workouts unless held back. To Kilmer's dismay, Sun Briar would not be Derby bound
due to ringbone. Churchill Downs president Matt Winn had to convince Kilmer to
run Exterminator. Off at 30-1 in the slop, Exterminator proved many people
wrong and won by a length. He raced until the age of nine and ran 99 times,
earning the nickname "Old Bones.” He lived out his retired life with
companion ponies, each one named Peanut. Exterminator lived until he was 30.
6.) Clyde Van Dusen, 1929, 2:10.80: Clyde Van Dusen was the last gelding to
win the Kentucky Derby before Funny Cide in 2003. He was a son of Man O'War, but
was said to be "a mere pony of a horse with a weedy frame." Because
of his appearance, he was named after his small statured trainer. The 1929
Kentucky Derby was run in the pouring rain and Clyde Van Dusen's mud caulks on
his shoes helped him through the slop. He won by two lengths and beat the
favorite and future horse of the year Blue Larkspur. Clyde Van Dusen was
purchased by his trainer after his racing days to become an exercise pony.
7.) Agile, 1905, 2:10.75: Agile only faced two competitors when
he won the Kentucky Derby. He also won the Phoenix Stakes in his three year old
year, which used to be held at Lexington's Kentucky Association racetrack.
Keeneland picked up the race in 1937 and it is still run today. Agile later
became a family's carriage horse.
8.) Reigh Count, 1928, 2:10.40: Reigh Count
certainly had a great run in both his race career and stud career. He won four
races at two, including the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, and took the Kentucky
Derby at three. He missed the Preakness and Belmont because of an injury, but
came back later that year to beat the Preakness winner and receive Horse of the
Year honors. He also won the Jockey Club Gold Cup that year against older
horses. As a four year old, Reigh Count shipped to England and won the
Coronation Cup before finishing second in the Ascot Gold Cup. He stood stud in
Paris Kentucky and sired 22 graded stakes winners, including 1940 Triple Crown
winner Count Fleet.
9.) Sir Barton, 1919, 2:09.80:
With no win as a two-year-old, Sir Barton started his three-year-old year in
the Kentucky Derby and was entered as a rabbit. Sir Barton flipped the tables
and won the race, then took the Preakness and Belmont, becoming the first
Triple Crown winner in America and 1919 Horse of the Year. At age four, Sir
Barton took on Exterminator in the Saratoga Handicap and won. After a mostly
unsuccessful stud career, Sir Barton served as a work horse for the U.S. Army
Remount Service. He was then bought by a Wyoming rancher and lived out the rest
of his days on his owner's ranch.
Worth, 1912, 2:09.40: Not only did
Worth win the Kentucky Derby, but he also became a U.S. champion racehorse in
1912. He was the top racehorse his two-year-old year based on earnings.
By Christine Oser