The Epsom Derby, the progenitor of the Kentucky Derby, will have its 243rd running at Epsom Downs outside London on Saturday, June 4. Although contested over a different surface (turf) and distance (1 1/2 miles), there are numerous historical links connecting the English classic to its younger Kentucky counterpart beyond just the name.
Did you know?
*The first person to own the winner of both a Kentucky Derby and Epsom Derby was John Galbreath. The founder of Darby Dan Farm, Galbreath won the Kentucky Derby in 1963 with Chateaugay and again in 1967 with Proud Clarion. In 1972, the Galbreath-owned Roberto narrowly captured the Epsom Derby with Lester Piggott riding. The legendary Piggott just passed away on Sunday.
Others who have seen their silks carried to victory in both races are Paul Mellon, Michael Tabor, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, and Juddmonte Farms.
*Although a number of jockeys have attempted to win both races, Steve Cauthen is the only one thus far to have accomplished the feat. Cauthen won the 1978 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown aboard Affirmed, and later added wins at Epsom with Slip Anchor (1985) and Reference Point (1987).
*Only two horses have ever run in both the Kentucky Derby and Epsom Derby. Bold Arrangement finished second in the 1986 Kentucky Derby but only 14th at Epsom. In 1992 Dr Devious finished seventh at Churchill Downs before rebounding to win the original Derby by two lengths.
*Northern Dancer (1964) is the only Kentucky Derby winner ever to sire a winner of the Epsom Derby. The influential stallion in fact did it three times, with English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky (1970), The Minstrel (1977), and Secreto (1984).
*Nijinsky, in turn, is one of only three Epsom Derby winners to sire a Kentucky Derby winner, his being Ferdinand (1986). Blenheim II, who won at Epsom in 1930, later sired Kentucky Derby winners Whirlaway (1941) and Jet Pilot (1947), while 1933 Epsom hero Hyperion sired 1944 Kentucky Derby winner Pensive.
*Nijinsky, Blenheim II, Hyperion, and the previously unmentioned Leamington and Hail to Reason are the only stallions to sire winners of both classics. Sons of Nijinsky won the Epsom classic three times, while Blenheim II and Hyperion had one each (Hyperion’s won a 1941 wartime Derby substitute held at Newmarket).
Leamington sired the first Kentucky Derby winner, Aristides (1875), as well as the first American-bred to capture the Epsom Derby, Iroquois (1881). Hail to Reason, the American champion juvenile of 1960, sired the aforementioned Proud Clarion and Roberto.