Years of Planning Story of Derby: Classic Gains More Prestige, Tradition With Each Renewal.; Col. M. L. Clark Staged First Running May 17, 1875, With Winn Taking Over in 1902, Daily Racing Form, 1948-05-01


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COL MATT J WINN President of ofChurchill Churchill Downs presents seventyfourth seventyfourthrunning running of Kentucky Derby each of ofwhich which he has witnessed Years of Planning Story of Derby Classic Gains More Prestige Tradition With Each Renewal Col M L Clark Staged First Running May 17 1875 With Winn Taking Over in 1902 1902CHURCHILL CHURCHILL DOWNS Louisville Ky April 30 This years running of the pre ¬ miere race of the western hemisphere the seventyfourth of the Kentucky Derby sees everincreasing prestige mellowness and the traditions of literally centuries of im ¬ proving the breed of thoroughbred horses culminating in this a true breeders stake stakeSuch Such traditions and atmosphere would be possible only in Kentucky where the nearby Blue Grass region is the ancestral home of the champions of the past today and of the future futureThe The Kentucky Derby did not reach its present world interest planttaxing attend ¬ ances or fabulous aid to the breeding in ¬ dustry withoufyears of intelligent planning on the part of publicspirited and indus ¬ trious citizens citizensNearly Nearly 80 years ago Col M Lewis Clark visited England for the first time and saw his first Derby at Epsom Young and a social leader he returned to Kentucky with a glowing thought that perhaps something could be done in America to serve the same laudable purpose of the English Derby and that something was done doneColonel Colonel Clark organized the first Louis ville Jockey Club and on some 200 acres of ground beyond the then city limits of Louis ¬ ville obtained from his uncle John Churchill staged the first Kentucky Derby It was run on May 17 1875 1875Changed Changed Distance in 1896 1896After After that the race underwent minor changes until it attained its present form until 1896 when the distance of the race was redifced from one mile and a half to one mile and a quarter quarterA A record was established in the very first year of its long unbroken sequence and since then whether records have been established or not each year has added to the legend to the background to the lore that makes the Derby what it is today outstanding outstandingThat That record in 1875 when the time of the winning Aristides was 237 was the fastest one mile and a half run by a three yearold up to that time in America In 1875 and continuing until the 90s many of the races were determined on the heat system but the Derby remained constant and in time all heat racing was discarded discardedBetter Better and better horses came to Churchill Downs to race in the Derby and riders too began to be attracted to this one mile and a quarter race victory in which instantly made a rider as well as thoroughbred nationally famous famousConsider Consider the following incident In 1893 Colonel Clark while officiating at Nash ¬ ville Tenn prior to the Churchill Downs meeting made a ruling which evoked a storm of protest according to reports of the times said ruling decreeing that when two or more horses of different ownership but under the same trainer be entered in the race they must be coupled in the wa ¬ gering geringDespite Despite the protests Colonel Clark con ¬ tinued the rule hi force at Churchill Downs where it began to take hold and today is standard on all American race courses coursesAll All during this time while the prestige of the race was slowly building so was public interest From time to time facili ¬ ties were improved and enlarged and in 1902 when Col Matt J Winn took o er the track the Derby started to emerge as the magnificent race of today As Colonel Winn pushed it toward greater importance and prominence the purse increased and requests for box space and even standing room at the Derby became so great that seemingly no amount of added public ac ¬ commodations could take care of the de ¬ mand Last year well over 100000 turned out to see JekPilot score on an off track and when accommodations become avail ¬ able crowds of as many as 150000 or more may become commonplace commonplaceWellSpent WellSpent Time Most visitors to Kentucky during the Derby period come of course to participate in the drama of the race itself But many take their time and deem it well spent to make the Derby the highlight of a tour about Kentucky Not only are the world famous farms of the Blue Grass region open to visitors but there are countless shrines landmarks and scenic and historic country available to the visitor visitorWhen When the band plays My Old Kentucky Home as the horses start the parade to the post you might know that at Bards town just 40 miles away stands a beautiful old house that before the Civil War was a center for Americas most brilliant social and political life Today that house is owned by the State of Kentucky and is known as My Old Kentucky Home because Stephen Collins Poster was a guest there when he wrote the song that is beloved throughout the world worldWhile While tire Kentucky Derby is antedated by its British counterpart the Epsom Derby the Kentucky classic is a pattern all its own although both the English Derby and Kentucky Derby are essentially alike in the fact that both are breeders races i e the winner almost invariably is sent to the stud and a great percentage of the horses which have raced in the Derby even if they were defeated also have gone on to stud greatness

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