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With last Sunday wrapping up the 2011 season at Churchill Downs  I thought it appropriate to take a look back specifically at the Kentucky Derbies of the past. So, I’ve assembled a “dream race” of sorts with a full field of twenty horses all competing for the prize of being crowned the greatest Derby champion of all time.

All these horses have won individual Derbies but who would win a grand championship? I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean that offering conjecture wouldn’t be interesting.

Aristides (1875)
The first Kentucky Derby winner- it would just be interesting to see how this horse would fare against the newer ones. Some base things in the race have changed through the years like length of the track however Aristides was a strong horse and a good horse to be crowned the first Derby champion.

Regret (1915)
Regret was the first filly to ever win a Derby and has been inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, in addition she was ranked #71 in a list of the 100 greatest thoroughbred champions of the 20th century.

Sir Barton (1919)
The first triple crown winning horse Sir Barton is without question a hall of famer and was ranked in the top 100 as well, he’s also been immortalized with a street name in Lexington.

Gallant Fox (1930)
The second Triple Crown champion, Gallant Fox won eleven major races and is a hall of famer as well.

Omaha (1935)
Ironically in the next gate is Gallant Fox’s son Omaha, a triple crown winner himself Omaha won six major races and ended up with his dad in the hall of fame.

War Admiral (1937)
In the next gate another famed Triple Crown winner, War Admiral. Twelve major races and ranked number thirteen in the 100 greatest list- it goes without saying he’s another hall of famer.

Whirlaway (1941)
Yet another Triple Crown all-star

Count Fleet (1943)
A triple-crown winner, Count Fleet was ranked #5 on the list of the top one hundred race horses of all time.

Assault (1946)
Hall of Famer who won the Triple Crown in ’46

Citation (1948)
Citation was more than a Triple Crown winner, he won sixteen major races back to back, a feat only accomplished by two other horses.

Needles (1956)
Needles had a truly great story born sickly he would after work from him and his trainer win the Kentucky Derby in 1956.

Northern Dancer (1964)
Winning nine major races this Canadian born horse would bring an interesting dynamic to the race.

Secretariat (1973)
Quite possibly the most famed horse of all time Secretariat was a Triple Crown winner and still holds the record for the fastest time in the history of the Kentucky Derby.

Seattle Slew (1977)
Ranked number nine in the 100 greatest horses, Seattle Slew famously won the Triple Crown and a plethora of other major races.

Affirmed (1978)
Nineteen major wins and a Triple Crown is all under the belt or hoof as the case may be of Affirmed.

Genuine Risk (1980)
Another legendary Filly Genuine Risk is the only filly to show in all three races of the Triple Crown.

Charismatic (1999)
Charismatic is a horse who came so close to a Triple Crown that his stats make him an exciting addition to the race.

Monarchos (2001)
Despite winning only two major races, Monarchos has the second fastest time in Kentucky Derby history, behind only Secretariat.

Smarty Jones (2004)
Six major wins, Smarty Jones always makes whatever race he’s in exciting.

Mine That Bird (2009)
A long shot, Mine That Bird unexpectedly won five major races.

And, with that I conclude my chapter of Churchill Down’s 2011 season.

Outside Sources

Online Encyclopedia

Image courtesy of Churchill Downs


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About Dave Rose

Recently, I completed a Masters degree in Education and have been writing for Louisville.com for over a year now, prior to that I published a humor book for young adults titled Wearing Socks with Sandals, a book about getting through high school, college, and all of the requisite problems that present themselves during that time. Currently, I spend much of my time in classroom settings as well as writing in various areas. Of course, I’m a big sports fan and love music and film, and love finding new stuff around Louisville.

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