2020 Kentucky Derby names that recall figures of the past

Aug 26, 2020 Vance Hanson/Brisnet.com

A year ago we perused dusty shelves (but mostly surfed the web) to find historical or prominent personalities whose images were conjured by the names of 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) participants . The task has admittedly been more difficult this year, but we've found a Famous Five to highlight ahead of the Sept. 5 classic.

Art Collector

Not only a philanthropic art collector, Paul Mellon was also a ubiquitous presence on both the American and British turf for more than half a century. Owner of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero, among other greats, Mellon and his family fortune were the primary benefactor and donor to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and other art institutes throughout the world. It was once said that a number of the masterwork paintings in his possession could be found displayed, to the awe of guests, in the cabin of his private jet.

Paul Mellon with Arts and Letters (NYRA/Bob Cogianese)
King Guillermo

While no known 'Guillermo' has reigned in the Spanish-speaking world, William III, or William of Orange as he was often known, ruled England, Ireland, and Scotland alongside his wife, Queen Mary II, for more than a decade in the latter years of the 17th century. Both royals took a keen interest in racing, too, with William having recorded his first visit to Newmarket, the headquarters of British racing, in the first year of his reign in 1689.

Storm the Court

A conventional reaction when upsets and buzzer-beaters occur, storming the court has become a staple of basketball season, especially at NCAA Tournament time. While it's mostly players and fans that participate, passionate coaches aren't immune to getting caught up in the frenzy. The late Jim Valvano proved the point when his North Carolina State Wolfpack won the 1983 National Championship game in the final second in a tremendous upset over the Houston Cougars. 

Tiz the Law

The Kentucky Derby favorite is a perfectly-named son of Constitution and Tizfiz, and who better to spring to mind first when thinking of one of the founding documents of our current republic than James Madison. Generally regarded as the 'Father of the Constitution,' the fourth president's connection to racing was tenuous at best in his own time. However, his Montpelier estate in Virginia later proved a breeding ground for notable Thoroughbreds during the 20th century when under the stewardship of Marion duPont Scott. 

Winning Impression

A subtle but cleverly-named son of Paynter, the gray gelding's nomenclature brings to mind Edouard Manet, the French painter of the 19th century who socialized in Impressionist circles. Art-loving racing fans would be familiar with his noted 1866 work The Races at Longchamp, presently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

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