Solid Gold Kentucky Derby Winners Trophy Arrives at Churchill Downs

Apr 13, 2016 John Asher

The priceless 14-karat gold trophy that will be earned by the winner of the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) has arrived at Churchill Downs Racetrack and will be nestled safely in the neighboring Kentucky Derby Museum until the running of America’s greatest race on Saturday, May 7. 

The trophy, hand-crafted from 14-karat gold and green gold over a period of nearly five months by artisans for precious metals solutions provider Richline Group|LeachGarner, was unveiled by Churchill Downs officials during a briefing in The Parlay on Wednesday, April 13. Alongside the Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy were three smaller sterling silver replica trophies created for the Kentucky Derby-winning trainer, jockey and breeder.       

Accompanying the coveted prize to the home of the Kentucky Derby were LeachGarner’s Susanne Blackinton-Juaire and husband Bill Juaire, who are key current members of the team that has crafted the trophy each year since 1975. Blackinton-Juaire is a fifth-generation silversmith whose family entered the profession in 1862 – 13 years before the first Kentucky Derby was run in 1875.

That creative team saw two of last year’s trophies presented to Ahmed Zayat of Zayat Stable, who accepted both the winning owner and breeder trophies of Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah, who over subsequent five weeks would win the Preakness (GI) and Belmont Stakes (GI) to become the first American Triple Crown winner since 1978 and the 12th overall to complete the sweep. Hall of Fame member Bob Baffert accepted his fourth trophy that honored him as the winning trainer of the Kentucky Derby, while Victor Espinoza received his third trophy that honored him as the Derby-winning jockey.

“We get asked a lot, ‘What’s the hardest part of making the (Derby winner’s) trophy?’” Blackinton-Juaire said. “Easily it’s having to pack it up and give it away. It’s really an honor and we’re proud of what we do. We can’t wait to see what happens. Last year was pretty exciting.”The 2016 Kentucky Derby Winner’s Trophy that arrived at Churchill Downs on Wednesday is 22 inches tall and weighs approximately 65 ounces, excluding its jade base. The trophy, commissioned by Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby legend Col. Matt Winn in 1924, is topped by a 14-karat gold horse and rider and features a pair of horseshoe-shaped wreath handles. The front of the trophy is adorned by an 18-karat gold horseshoe that, in accordance with racing tradition, is pointed upward.

Racing lore holds that a the “luck will run out of a horseshoe” that is pointed downward, but that Kentucky Derby Winner’s Trophy carried such a design from its introduction until 1997, when the horseshow was turned 180 degrees. 

While the Kentucky Derby trophies will reside at the Kentucky Derby Museum until the post-race presentation on Saturday, May 7, the large winner’s trophy will be on public display prior to the “Run or the Roses.” Scheduled stops for the trophy include: 

  • Friday, April 29 – Kentucky Derby Museum Gala, 7-8:30 p.m. (all times EDT) at the Kentucky Derby Museum;
  • Wednesday, May 4 – Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw, 5:30-6 p.m. at Churchill Downs;
  • Wednesday, May 4 – Kentucky Derby Post Draw President’s Reception, 6-8 p.m. at Churchill Downs;
  • Thursday, May 5 – “Thurby” at Churchill Downs, 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (location TBA);
  • Thursday, May 5 – The Mansion at Churchill Downs, 5:30-7 p.m.;
  • Thursday, May 5 – “Taste of Derby,” 7-10 p.m., KFC Yum! Center
  • Friday, May 6 – Middletown Kroger, 1250 Shelbyville Road, 3-6 p.m. during creation of the Kentucky Derby mantle of roses.

The names of the respective winning connections of the 2016 Kentucky Derby will be engraved on the four trophies after the race. The engraved Kentucky Derby Winner’s Trophy and the trophies for the winning trainer, jockey and breeder will be formally presented to those individuals or groups on the evening of Saturday, June 18, during the Churchill Downs’ “Downs After Dark” night racing program headed by the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).


  • The handcrafted trophy’s standard design was commissioned by legendary Churchill Downs President Col. Matt Winn for the “Golden Anniversary Derby” in 1924;
  • The Kentucky Derby Winner’s Trophy is 22 inches tall and weighs approximately 65 ounces, excluding its jade base;
  • The trophy is topped by a 14-karat gold horse and rider and horseshoe-shaped wreath handles. In 1997 the 18-karat gold horseshoe that adorns the trophy, which had been faced downward since its creation in 1924, was turned 180 degrees. Racing lore holds that the “luck will run out” of a horseshoe that is pointed down;
  • The trophy took on added features for the 75th (1949), 100th (1974) and 125th (1999) runnings of the Kentucky Derby. Each of those trophies included a mantle of “roses” fashioned from rubies and emeralds, along with a horseshoe filled with diamonds.  Similar additions are planned for the trophy presented at the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby in 2024;
  • It took nearly five months for artisans to create the 2016 Kentucky Derby Winner’s trophy;
  • The Richline Group|LeachGarner creative team also fashioned three smaller sterling silver replica trophies that are presented to the winning Kentucky Derby trainer, jockey and breeder.
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