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Which Trainers have the Most Kentucky Derby Wins?

All-Time Kentucky Derby Wins (Trainers)_615x400

If a Thoroughbred trainer is asked what their favorite race to win is, many will answer the Kentucky Derby. The Run for the Roses kicks off the Triple Crown excitement and a horse only gets one chance to run in the race. Below are the trainers who have not experienced the biggest victory at Churchill Downs once or twice, but three times or more. They are the trainers with the most Kentucky Derby wins.


Ben A. Jones (6): No other trainer has seen the success of Jones in the Kentucky Derby and no one has tied his record. The closest trainers have gotten is two wins less. Jones’ Kentucky Derby winners were Lawrin, (1938), Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), and Hill Gail (1952). Except for Lawrin, each horse was owned by Calumet Farm, with Whirlaway and Citation both being Triple Crown winners. Jones is one of two trainers to have won the Triple Crown twice.


Herbert J. Thompson (4): Switching from harness racing to Thoroughbred racing served Thompson well. His picked up horses for Colonel E.R. Bradley and won the Kentucky Derby with four horses, each owned by the Colonel. The four winners were Behave Yourself (1921), Bubbling Over (1926), Burgoo King (1932), and Brokers Tip (1933). Brokers Tip is one of the two maidens to win the Run for the Roses.


D. Wayne Lukas (4): Lukas is one of the best known names in racing. His first Kentucky Derby win came with the filly Winning Colors (1988), followed by Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996), and Charismatic (1999). Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont while Charismatic won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.


Bob Baffert (4): The fourth time was the charm for Baffert. He missed the Triple Crown with three different horses, but finally got the glory in 2015 with American Pharoah. Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), and War Emblem (2002) all won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but missed the third jewel. This year Baffert could have Mor Spirit and Cupid in the Kentucky Derby. They sit at numbers 8 and 13 respectively on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.


Jim Fitzsimmons (3): “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons is the only other trainer besides Ben A. Jones to win two Triple Crowns. His three Kentucky Derby wins came with Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), and Johnstown (1939), the first two being the horses that won the Triple Crown. Belair Stud was the owner of all three horses.


Max Hirsch (3): Hirsch’s first Kentucky Derby winner was Bold Venture (1936), who ended up siring two more Kentucky Derby winners for Hirsch. Bold Venture’s sons Assault (1946) and Middleground (1950) followed in their father’s footsteps, and Assault even won the Triple Crown.


By Christine Oser


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