First Horse to Ever Win Kentucky Derby

On May 17, 1875, the first Kentucky Derby took place, setting the line for over a hundred more years of them to follow with an equal amount of winners. The first horse ever to cross the finish line and make history was one by the name of Aristides. Foaled in 1872, the chestnut colt, who was owned by H.P. McGrath, won with a time of 2:37 3/4 in front of a crowd of 10,000. He earned a purse of $2,850.

Aristides was sired by Leamington (bred in England), while his dam was Sarong. His grandsire was Faugh-a-Ballagh (who was foaled in Ireland), and his damsire was Lexington.

Aristides Kentucky Derby Winner

Both the trainer and the jockey of Aristides were African-American: Ansel Williamson as the trainer, and Oliver Lewis as the jockey. Williamson, who was a trainer and breeder, had much success working with horses, including with Tom Bowling, who had a record of 14 wins out of the 17 races he ran. Lewis was only 19-years-old when he won the Derby, and although he was never in another Kentucky Derby, he was still successful the rest of his life.

In 1874 when Aristides was 2-years-old, he had nine starts and finished first in three of them as well as second in another three, including at the Thespian Stakes. In 1875, he not only won the Kentucky Derby, but also the Jerome Stakes, Withers Stakes, and Breckenridge Stakes. He came in second at the Ocean Hotel Stakes and Belmont Stakes and finished third at the Travers Stakes. That year netted him $15,700 and making it his biggest winning year. The following year, he had two starts and finished first in both of them. In 1878 when he was 6, he had one start and didn’t place. All together in his career, he had 21 starts, finished first in 9 of them, finished second in 5 of them, and finished third in 1 of them.

To honor the horse who won the first Kentucky Derby, there’s a lifesize statue bearing his likeness at the Chuchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky.

April 5, 2015 by : Posted in futures No Comments

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