By the time the Kentucky Derby trophy is presented to the winning owner, trainer and jockey, most people have moved to the betting windows to cash their tickets, begun their trec out of Churchill Downs, or returned to the backyard Derby party. However, the trophy presentation is just as impressive as when the winning horse and jockey make their way into the horseshoe-shaped winner’s circle on the Churchill Downs turf.
Since 1924 when Black Gold won the 50th running of the Kentucky Derby, the winning owner has been presented a gold trophy. Prior to that, it was sporadically presented to the winning owner. From 1924 to 1999, the prominent horseshoe on the front of the trophy was pointed downward. Racing lore states the luck will run out when a horseshoe is turned upside down, so the horseshoe was turned upward for the 125th trophy.
The trophy stands 22 inches tall, including its jade base, and weighs in at 3 ½ pounds. The 14-karat gold prize is made by New England Sterling Inc. in Attleboro, Massachusetts and is believed to be the only solid gold trophy presented in a major American sporting event.
"We spend about 2,000 man hours making this trophy and the effort is a tremendous point of pride for all involved in that work,” said Marc Forbes, President of New England Sterling, Inc. “This trophy is a prize that is absolutely priceless. That’s not only because of the value of the 14-karat gold that makes up the trophy, but because of what it means to win the Kentucky Derby. This trophy is something you cannot buy. To acquire it you have to win America’s greatest race, and that is one of the most difficult accomplishments in sports.”
Photo: Churchill Downs/Dan Dry