In celebration of the Del Mar race meet, who hosts the Breeders' Cup later this year, learn the history of the Kentucky Derby runners who enjoyed some time at the beach!
The Kentucky Derby in spring may not always seem closely linked to California’s great late-summer meet at Del Mar, especially given that Derby 3-year-olds often chase East Coast races in summer such as the Jim Dandy Stakes, Haskell Invitational, and Travers Stakes.
However, delve back a little and there are some intriguing links. Here’s a few posers to test your knowledge of the connections between the Derby and Del Mar.
- A Kentucky Derby winner from this century won just one more race in his career, at Del Mar. Name the horse.
- 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand won a memorable Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1987 over that year’s Derby winner Alysheba. It was Ferdinand’s fourth win in a row, one of which came at the Del Mar summer meet. Name that race.
- Del Mar racegoers one day in the 1990s who watched a colt finish fourth in a maiden special weight juvenile race over a mile – thus meaning he was still a maiden after six races – would have been surprised to learn that he would win the Kentucky Derby. Name the horse.
- No Kentucky Derby winner has won Del Mar’s richest race, the Pacific Classic in the same year. However, four 3-year-olds beaten in the Derby won the Pacific Classic later that year. Name them.
- Dullahan, the 2012 Pacific Classic winner, is a half-brother to which well-remembered Kentucky Derby winner?
- Only one Kentucky Derby winner has won the Pacific Classic. Name the horse.
- Two horses defeated in the Kentucky Derby as 3-year-olds subsequently won the Pacific Classic as older horses. Who were they?
- A Kentucky Derby winner of the 1990s had his first three races at Del Mar, finishing second, first, and first in those races. Which horse was it?
- Four horses won the Del Mar Futurity as juveniles and then went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Name the horses.
- Who is the only horse to have won both of Del Mar’s top juvenile races, the Best Pal Stakes (G2) and the Del Mar Futurity (G1), and then gone on to win the Kentucky Derby?
Test your knowledge by reading and answering the questions above before reading the corresponding answers below!
- The 2005 Kentucky Derby was won at 50-1 by the Californian-trained colt Giacomo. He ran several good races afterwards, but his only subsequent victory was the 2006 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.
- Ferdinand’s Del Mar victory – the second in a four-race streak which also included the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Goodwood Handicap (now the Awesome Again Stakes) – was the Cabrillo Handicap. This ungraded event was run for the last time in 1990, giving way when the Pacific Classic was inaugurated in 1991.
- Real Quiet couldn’t win at his first six race attempts in 1997. He had finished third in four races prior to his Del Mar fourth-place finish. But he won two of his next three starts, including the Hollywood Futurity (G1), and the following year went closer than any horse between Affirmed and American Pharoah to completing the Triple Crown, losing the Belmont Stakes on the line by a nose.
- Best Pal won the inaugural Pacific Classic in 1991 after finishing second to Strike the Gold in the Derby. General Challenge (11th in the 1999 Derby), Came Home (sixth in the 2002 Derby), and Dullahan (third in the 2012 Derby) all won the Pacific Classic as 3-year-olds.
- Dullahan was sold as a yearling for $250,000 at Keeneland in 2010 in part on the strength of the performances of his half-brother Mine That Bird, who won the 2009 Derby at odds of 50-1 before finishing second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont Stakes.
- California Chrome was way too good in the 2014 Kentucky Derby. After a 4-year-old career that was interrupted by injury he had a fantastic 5-year-old season, winning six races in a row, including the Pacific Classic by five lengths.
- Free House, the third-place finisher in the 1997 Kentucky Derby, won the Pacific Classic in 1998. Borrego, 10th in the 2004 Derby, won the Pacific Classic in 2005.
- The popular grey Silver Charm began his career with a second-place finish at Del Mar Aug. 10 in 1996, and followed it with a maiden victory Aug. 24 and victory in the Del Mar Futurity, then grade 2, Sept. 11. He won the Derby and Preakness the following year.
- The 1981 Del Mar Futurity winner Gato Del Sol was the first Del Mar Futurity winner to win the Kentucky Derby the following year. Others to complete the double were Silver Charm (1996-97), American Pharoah (2014-15) and Nyquist (2015-16).
- Nyquist remained unbeaten after eight starts when he won the 2016 Kentucky Derby. He recorded his first graded stakes victories the previous year in the Best Pal Stakes and the Del Mar Futurity on the way to becoming champion 2-year-old male.
(Photo of Mine That Bird winning the Kentucky Derby by Horsephotos.com)