Tag Archives: Kentucky Derby

Longines Honors Justify’s Kentucky Derby Victory with Swiss Watch Presentation

Miami, FL, May 7, 2018 – As the Official Timekeeper and Watch of the Kentucky Derby, the Swiss watch brand Longines was proud to celebrate the victory of Justify in the 144th running of the event. To mark their remarkable victory against a field of impressive contenders, the brand awarded Justify’s owner, trainer and jockey with Longines timepieces at the winner’s party. The event was just the latest in Longines’ rich tradition of precision sports timekeeping.

Known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” the 144th edition did not disappoint. Justify narrowly edged out Good Magic and Audible to take the coveted prize money and the wreath of roses. The elegance of the spectacle culminated with the presentation of watches to jockey Mike Smith, trainer Bob Baffert, and owners WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing, and Head of Plains Partners LLC by Mr. Pascal Savoy, Longines US Brand President, before an engaged crowd of spectators beneath the twin spires of Churchill Downs.

The Derby race represented the pinnacle of an exciting weekend of sport and elegance, with many highlights on and off the track. Earlier on Saturday, the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile race was claimed by Proctor’s Ledge and John Velazquez, who established a lead over On Leave and Jose Ortiz, close behind.

Ana Martins Communications

Kentucky Derby

Image Attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4088398.

The Kentucky Derby is a horse race held annually in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds at a distance of one and a quarter miles (2 km) at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57 kilograms) and fillies 121 pounds (55 kilograms).

The race is known in the United States as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” or “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate duration, and is also called “The Run for the Roses” for the blanket of roses draped over the winner. It is the first leg of the American Triple Crown and is followed by the Preakness Stakes, then the Belmont Stakes. Unlike the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, which took hiatuses in 1891-1893 and 1911-1912, respectively, the Kentucky Derby has been run every consecutive year since 1875. A horse must win all three races to win the Triple Crown. In the 2015 listing of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), the Kentucky Derby tied with the Whitney Handicap as the top Grade 1 race in the United States outside of the Breeders’ Cup races.

The attendance at the Kentucky Derby ranks first in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup.

The 2017 Kentucky Derby will be the 143rd running, and is set for Saturday, May 6, 2017 with a $2 million guaranteed purse.


A Visual Guide to The Kentucky Derby is an interactive infographic dealing with interesting facts and trivia on the history and pageantry of one of sport’s biggest events. From the Derby’s origins to dominating bloodlines and on to ladies fashions and mint juleps… this infographic has a little bit for every one as it unfolds the most exciting two minutes in sports!


Classic Empire Heads Entries for Kentucky Derby

Credit: Paul Miles via Twitter.

Classic Empire is set to begin his Classic campaign this year in the Kentucky Derby, where he is the bookmakers’ favourite to prevail in the 2000m contest at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Mark Casse-trained horse was one of the most impressive two-year-colts last year in the United States where he won on three of his four starts at the racecourse, including the Grade One Clairborne Breeders’ Futurity Stakes at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita during the World Championship meeting in November.

Classic Empire has already had the benefit of two starts in 2017. He made his seasonal reappearance at Gulfstream Park where he could only come home third in the Grade Two Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes when going off at -200. He did though come on for that outing on his most recent run at Churchill Downs when he won the Grade Three Bashford Manor Stakes.

Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is a best price of +700 for victory in the first leg of the Triple Crown; however, if you are looking to back Casse’s talented horse, check out comparison sites like BritishBookmakers.co.uk who collate the best sign-up offers and odds for the meeting at Churchill Downs next month.

Always Dreaming is unbeaten since moving to Todd Pletcher’s yard and is also set to line up in the Kentucky Derby for his connections. The three-year-old ran only once last season, where he finished third at Belmont Park. He’s already had two outings in 2017 as he scored on his return at Gulfstream Park, where he stepped up to 1800m for the first time in his career.

Credit: Jonatan Meza via Twitter

Pletcher’s colt made a quick return at Gulfstream Park to land the Grade One Florida Derby by an impressive five lengths. He was ridden that day by John Velazquez, who tracked the leaders early on and made a challenge in the home straight where his horse picked up really well.

Always Dreaming is available at +800 in the latest betting, at the time of writing. Pletcher is bidding for his second Kentucky Derby winner as he trained Super Saver to success in 2010.

Another horse who is expected to be in contention at Churchill Downs is Irish War Cry for H. Graham Motion, who last won this race in 2011 with Animal Kingdom. The horse, whose sire is Curlin, has already recorded a couple of Grade Two successes.

After making his a winning debut Laurel Park, Motion’s colt went straight into the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes where he upset the short-price favourite Classic Empire. A month later he ran a below-par performance as he came home down the field at the same course in another Grade Two contest.

Irish War Cry looked right back to his best earlier this month in the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct as he finished the strongest of the eight runners to claim success with Rajov Maragh on his back.

This year’s Kentucky Derby will be the 143rd renewal of the race and will take place on May 6 where there are currently 23 entries remaining with just two weeks to go.

Old Friends Derby Time!

Photon and Rail Trip racing for carrots. Photo © Laura Battles.

We’re just a few days away from the first Saturday in May and virtually every entry has an Old Friends connection. Creator, who shares his name with our great European Gr. 1 winner, was ridden by Cash Asmussen. Steve Asmussen, Cash’s brother, trains the American Creator. Bob Baffert with Mor Spirit is one of our most generous, supportive friends and trained our two Derby winners, Silver Charm (1997) and War Emblem (2002). We have retirees ridden by John Velasquez (Commentator), Gary Stevens (Silver Charm), Mike Smith (Game On Dude), and Victor Espinoza (War Emblem). The list goes on and on.

And while I agree that the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports, these great athletes’ lives go on for many, more years. That’s where Old Friends and all the other Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance organizations come in handy. Whether it’s Lusty Latin or Easy Grades, both well-beaten by War Emblem, or precocious horses such as Dinard, Afternoon Deelites and Wallenda, who were all Derby candidates, we treat them all the same. We are honored to care for them well beyond their three-year-old years. Sometimes, like Derby contender Gulch, they live into their early 30s. So when the gates open at Churchill Downs on Saturday, and we all hold our collective breaths, I’ll be thinking of the hundreds of Saturdays that many of them will be with us. Because to me, at Old Friends, every day is as exciting as the run for the roses. Except now, they’re running for carrots.

We hope you can attend our 12th Annual Homecoming Event May 8th, the day after Derby here on the farm. Many thanks to all of our supporters and volunteers.

Old Friends, Inc. 1841 Paynes Depot Rd., Georgetown, KY 40324
502-863-1775 www.oldfriendsequine.org   michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Old Friends at Cabin Creek   483 Sandhill Rd., Greenfield Center, NY 12833
518-698-2377   www.oldfriendsatcabincreek.com   cabincreek4@hotmail.com

Top Jocks and Their Kids Pose for the 7th Annual “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby”

Rosie Napravnik, Joe Sharp, and baby Carson with Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm (Photo by EquiSport)

Proceeds from the online fashion auction to benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Facility

GEORGETOWN, KY – NOVEMBER 4, 2015 – For the third consecutive year, jockey Rosie Napravnik will model handcrafted, one-of-a-kind Kentucky Derby chapeaus to support the 7th Annual “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby,” an online fashion auction that raises money for Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, KY.

This seventh season, however, was a family affair. Napravnik posed with her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, and their new baby Carson. Joining them were leading rider Julien Leparoux, who posed with his wife Shea and their son Mitchell, and top jock Brian Hernandez, who posed with his wife Jamie and their daughter Joshlyn.

This is the seventh year that Old Friends has joined with acclaimed milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of the Massachusetts-based Maggie Mae Designs® to auction off six exclusive Kentucky Derby hats between November and April, each inspired by one of the non-profit organization’s 156 retired racehorses.

To date, this unique fundraiser has earned over $23,000 for Old Friends.

The six couture hats that will go on the block the first of every month between now and the 2016 running of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

The fashion auction kicked off November 1st with Napravnik and Sharp showcasing the “The Silver Charm,” a design inspired by the 1997 Kentucky Derby Champion who is now retired at Old Friends.

To view the hat, visit http://www.maggiemae.com/OldFriendsAuction-Horse-SilverCharm.htm.

Bidding on “The Silver Charm” began at 8 pm on November 1st and will be open for 10 days only, until 8 pm on November 11th. Interested bidders can go to the Old Friends website at www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link. Or click this link: http://www.oldfriendsequine.org/hats-current.html.

SilverCharm2The photo shoots for each hat, done by EquiSport Photographers Matt and Wendy Wooley, took place this fall at Old Friends and matches Steinmann’s beautiful hats with ensembles from Lexington’s Bella Rose Boutique.

For a video of the EquiSport photo shoot, visit http://vimeo.com/143786158.

Rosie Napravnik has been one of the most successful and influential women in the Sport of Kings. In 2012 she became the first woman to win the Kentucky Oaks, a feat she repeated in 2014. Napravnik, who retired from riding last year to begin a family with husband Sharp, also sits on the Old Friends Board of Directors.

Eclipse-Awarding winning Julien Leparoux is also one of horseracing’s leading jockeys. The France-born rider has earned titles at Churchill, Keeneland and at Turfway Park. In 2015 he won the Breeders’ Cup Mile aboard Tepin.

Brian Hernandez was an Eclipse Award winning apprentice in 2004. He has over 1,000 wins to his credit, including the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Fort Larned in 2012.

About Silver Charm

In 1997 Silver Charm won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Gary Stevens. The dual-classic wins helped him capture that year’s Eclipse Award as Champion Three Year Old Male. He went on to win the 1998 Dubai World Cup and, with nearly $7 million in career earnings, he was inducted in Racing Hall of Fame in 2007. After 10 years in Japan, Silver Charm retired to Old Friends in 2014.

About the Silver Charm Hat

The wide-brimmed “Silver Charm” hat features three varying shades of gray and white silk organza at its base. It is adorned with a single rose curl sculpted out of alternating layers of deep yellow dupioni silk and yellow silk organza, which reflect the stallion’s famous racing colors. A fancy charcoal braiding was top stitched to the ruffled-brim edges and along the under brim for a lovely finishing touch, while several free form bow loops, created out of gray veiling, adds just a hint of wispy elegance.

Dozens of long slender gray, white and charcoal silk organza feathers, a Maggie Mae Designs® trademark, were also carefully stitched, layered and shaped to frame the face beautifully when the hat is worn.

For additional information, contact Maggie Mae Designs® at sally@maggiemae.com.

Maggie Mae Designs® Custom Millinery offers magnificent hats for all occasions – from glamorous racing events such as the Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot to stunning bridal wear and handsome cocktail fashions. Every hat is carefully handcrafted by milliner Sally Faith Steinmann from her home base in South Harwich, MA. Salons of her fashions can be seen on her website at www.maggiemaedesigns.com.

About Old Friends
Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for 156 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

American Pharoah Wins 2015 Kentucky Derby

American Pharoah reigns supreme at the 2015 Kentucky Derby!

The 2-year-old champion ridden by Victor Espinoza beat out the field of 18 before a record crowd of 170,513 at Churchill Downs on Saturday, capping the two-week-long festival featuring bizarre hats, fancy dining and powerful thoroughbreds.

Firing Line came in second, followed by Dortmund. The win would be jockey Espinoza’s second straight at the Derby.

The speedy colt American Pharoah was the favorite heading into the 141st running of The Derby, with odds of 5-2. American Pharoah had won his past four races, and it was Espinoza who rode California Chrome to victory in 2014.

Experts’ second-favorite horse was Dortmund, with odds of 3-1. Both horses were trained by the Hall of Fame inductee Bob Baffert, who secured his fourth Derby win. Baffert could also take credit for the horse finishing third.

Dortmund set the pace at the start, closely followed by Firing Line and American Pharoah. But as the 1.25 mile race wore on, American Pharoah made a move for the lead and held it across the finish line first, securing a $2 million guaranteed minimum purse.

The race time was 2:03.02, run under sunny skies.

“I’m speechless,” American Pharoah’s owner Ahme Zayat said. “We are very blessed.”

“We were ready to rumble,” Baffert said. “I just love what I saw today from both of my boys.”

American Pharoah makes a bit of an oddball champion, having an abnormally short tail, and a misspelled name (Pharoah”). But who doesn’t enjoy a victor with some character?

The rest of the results follow, beginning with fourth place:

Frosted, Danzig Moon, Materiality, Keen Ice, Mubtaahij, Itsaknockout, Carpe Diem, Frammento, Bolo, Mr. Z, Ocho Ocho Ocho, Far Right, War Story, Tencendur, Upstart.

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An In-Depth Look at the Recent Red Hills Horse Trials

Horse races and other kinds of equestrian competitions continue to make waves around the globe. If you have a favorite rider or horse, join the fun at www.Kentuckyderbybetting.com where Derby Day is one of the most exciting events. Just last year, over $130 million were wagered. Twelve hours away from the Kentucky Derby, the famous Red Hills can be found. Red Hills was created back in 1998 and since then, they have become one of the leading equestrian competitions in the United States.

Officially named the Red Hills International Horse Trials, this non-profit organization is in Tallahassee, the capital of Florida. Each year, Red Hills Horse Trials that comply with USHJA rules are held. The annual trials feature exciting challenges on cross-country course. This course found in the center of a 120-acre park has recently been updated and intended for the 2013 participants.

Aside from the stadium course, there are also four dressage rings, the famous Red Hills Avenue of Shops, and different kind of exhibits and educational demos that every horse lover will adore. Just like the 2013 Red Hills Horse Trials, the 2012 event was also a huge success. Now, in this year’s event, winners may have already been declared, but many notable riders and horses left the audience in awe.

Highlights of the Red Hills Horse Trials

The competition began on the 8th of March and ended on the 10th. During the first day, the four dressage rings were all running at the same time. This made it hard for the spectators to keep an eye on what the riders and horses were all doing. Nevertheless, the decision was made and scores were given by the judges. Obtaining the first place in the CIC One Star Level with a final score of 39.90 were Julie Richards and her horse, San City.

Even as the dressage was still taking place, the CIC Two Stars and CIC Three Stars horses began show jumping. As it turned out, Marilyn Little bagged the first after dressage for RF Smoke on the Water and second place for her horse named RF Demeter. Both happened in the CIC3 division.

Top Horses Worth Mentioning

One of the horses that drew attention from the crowd was Madison Park, also known as Parker. Together with Kyle Carter, many people, especially the Canadians were pleased to see the horse competing once again. He suffered from major forelimb damage when he fell hard back in 2011, but still looked good throughout the competition.

Sinead Halpin’s horse, On Cue, is one of the youngest horses. However, she is already a force to be reckoned with. Not only is this mare bold and has wide range, she has the look of an extra-powerful galloping animal. Elizabeth New showed off her horse during the Red Hills Horse Trials and she definitely was not disappointed. Upper Crest D impressed everyone with his good looks and charm. He was extremely amazing on the cross country course, making a lot of people cheer for him. Perhaps in a few years, he might become one of the greats of Red Hills. Many noted his rhythm, ride-ability, and foot perfection specifically as he jumped through the second water.

Libby Head, who won the USEF National Young Rider Championship in 2011 as mentioned here, had a few issues with her horse, Sir Rockstar, during the dressage test. The little horse showed the crowd his inner pony, which interestingly made the whole trial even more exciting. Eventually, Sir Rockstar displayed the reason why he got his name. In both jumping stages, he was a natural, giving people the impression that he is one clever horse in cross-country course.

Nicolette Merie-Smith showed the spectators that her horse can really jump. This is why they grabbed the third place in the first rider division right after the horse dressage. In clear cross country course, however, the partners jumped their way to the finish line with the gold in their hands. They also won the first place in the show jumping rounds. Jennie Brannigan, one of our featured riders, certainly did not disappoint. She and her horse Indie grabbed the first place in the CIC Two Star division. However, it was Clayton Fredericks and Sorrento who primarily led the competition. Sadly, their advantage came to a quick, wet end when the horse fell at the first water. Nevertheless, Sorrento, the horse, was clearly a gem. He passed the dressage test with flying colors and enthralled the watchers with his show jumping.

Hundreds or even thousands of horse racing and other competitions take place all across the globe, but the Red Hills Horse Trials in Florida is one of the most anticipated. Showcasing beautiful and athletic horses, the whole event is not only fun but also promotes unity amongst equine lovers.

“Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to The Derby” Online Auction of Kentucky Derby Hats Continues with a Chapeau Inspired by Breeders’ Cup Champion Prized

Proceeds to Benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement

GEORGETOWN, KY – NOVEMBER 30, 2011 – “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby,” a charity auction of fashionable Kentucky Derby Hats, continues December 1st as bidding opens on “The Prized.”

“The Prized” hat is the second chapeau to go on the virtual block in this six-month-long auction, which kicked off November 1st.

Proceeds from this exclusive event benefit Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in central Kentucky, and features beautiful hats handcrafted by milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of Maggie Mae Designs.

Each of the six unique designs are inspired by one of the pensioned racehorses at Old Friends, and a new hat will be offered for bid each month leading up to the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby, held in 2012 on May 5th at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.

Continue reading “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to The Derby” Online Auction of Kentucky Derby Hats Continues with a Chapeau Inspired by Breeders’ Cup Champion Prized

“Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to The Derby” Online Auction of Couture Kentucky Derby Hats Returns for Third Year

Proceeds to Benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement

GEORGETOWN, KY – OCTOBER 31, 2011 – Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, KY, is happy to announce the launch of the third annual “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby,” an online auction of exclusive Kentucky Derby hats.

The first of six hats exclusive Derby chapeaus will go on the virtual block November 1st and bidding will be open for 10 days. The first hat will commemorate Hall of Fame Champion Noor.

Interested bidders can visit www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link.

In the past two years this the six-month-long charity auction, featuring beautiful hats handcrafted by milliner Sally Faith Steinman, has raised nearly $9,000 for the more than 100 retired racehorses cared for by Old Friends.

Continue reading “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to The Derby” Online Auction of Couture Kentucky Derby Hats Returns for Third Year

Kentucky Derby Winner Go for Gin Retires to Kentucky Horse Park

Photo: Go for Gin, by PixBySteve.com.

LEXINGTON, KY (August 11, 2011) – Go for Gin, the 1994 winner of the Kentucky Derby (G1), has arrived in Lexington, Kentucky, to make his home in the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions alongside fellow Derby winner Funny Cide, two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Da Hoss, and racing superstar Cigar.

John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park, said, “Go for Gin will make another great addition to our Hall of Champions.  We entertain nearly 1 million visitors each year and they will be delighted to have the opportunity to meet a horse of his caliber, who performed so well in all three Triple Crown races.”

Go for Gin was bred in Kentucky by Pamela DuPont Darmstadt, owned by William J. Condren and Joseph M. Cornacchia, and trained by Nick Zito.  As a 2-year-old, the son of Cormorant-Never Knock, by Stage Door Johnny won the Remsen S (G2).  At 3, he was one of the few racehorses to beat the mighty Holy Bull, which he did in winning the Derby.  He followed that win with a second in the Preakness S (G1) to Tabasco Cat and second in the Belmont S (G1), also to Tabasco Cat.  That same year he also came up just short in the Wood Memorial (G1) and Fountain of Youth S (G2) for second.

In all, from ages 2 to 4, Go for Gin was in the money in 14 out of 19 starts with earnings of $1,380,866.

He took up stud duty at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, and was later sold to Bonita Farm in Maryland, where he has been standing since 2004.  His progeny have earned more than $16.5 million and include Albert the Great, winner of more than $3 million.

Continue reading Kentucky Derby Winner Go for Gin Retires to Kentucky Horse Park