Few days in horse racing are more memorable than the Kentucky Derby. Every year on the first Saturday in May, the first leg of the Triple Crown is held in the United States, with the historic Churchill Downs hosting the great day of racing. It is a race that all connections on the dirt aim for after purchasing stars, but only a few are fortunate enough to win and immortalize their runner in the history books for all time.
Some of racing’s brightest talents have won the race throughout history, including renowned stars like Secretariat and American Pharoah, who both went on to complete the Triple Crown by winning the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. In preparation for this year’s race, the Casinobonusesnow.com team has created a list of prior winners whose names have a connection to casinos and who have left an indelible mark on the sport.
Rich Strike (2022)
There is no better place to start than the most recent winner of the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike. Last year, the horse trained by Eric Reed, became the second-biggest long shot in the history of the race to land victory. Such was the shock that his entry into the Derby wasn’t even confirmed until the day before following Ethereal Road’s late scratch. That also ensures that he is the only Derby winner not to have been included on the merchandise for the race. Rich Strike earned his place in the race after finishing third in both the John Battaglia Stakes and Jeff Ruby Stakes, before giving Reed and jockey Sonny Leon their first Grade 1 win.
Always Dreaming (2017)
Always Dreaming was another shock winner of the Kentucky Derby, this time for trainer Todd Pletcher. The three-year-old earned his place in the race after landing the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, as he finished stronger than the remainder of the field. Pletcher was full of confidence before the race, believing that the wet fast conditions at Churchill Downs could play to his strengths. That confidence was rewarded by a strong showing, as he finished nearly three lengths clear of the field. However, he couldn’t later add a second Triple Crown win, as he finished eighth in the Preakness Stakes.
Silver Charm (1997)
Silver Charm was a solid contender on the Triple Crown series throughout his career with trainer Bob Baffert. His ability was clear for all throughout his two-year-old campaign, as he landed victory in the Del Mar Futurity. His progression would continue with success in the San Vicente Stakes, before landing the Kentucky Derby in 1997. Further success would follow in the Triple Crown series, as he would land victory in the Preakness Stakes. However, he would be narrowly denied Triple Crown history after taking second in the Belmont Stakes. Regardless, his reputation remained intact, and he is the current oldest living winner of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Winning Colors (1988)
Winning the Kentucky Derby is difficult enough, but as a filly, it is near impossible. However, one of the most celebrated horses of all time remains a contender who managed to win the opening leg of the Triple Crown regardless of sex. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Winning Colors was sent to the Kentucky Derby following victory in the Santa Anita Derby by over seven lengths. However, few gave her much of a chance at Churchill Downs, as she came up against solid contenders in the forms of Risen Star, Regal Classic, and Private Terms.
But, she broke quickly out of the gates and raced immediately to the lead. She then held off the chasing pack to win by a neck. Winning Colors would later finish third in the Preakness Stakes, before an out-of-the-money finish followed in the Belmont Stakes. Still, her performance at Churchill Downs would be forever remembered, and she was later awarded induction into the 2000 United States Racing Hall of Fame.
This Year’s Contenders
The betting for this year’s race promises that it will be an exciting renewal. Forte is the standout contender in the betting for trainer Todd Pletcher, as he returned to the track with a sensational victory in the G2 Fountain of Youth, beating Rocket Can by four lengths. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero from last year looks to be the star in the field at present, with Tapit Trice, Practical Move, and Extra Anejo all jostling for positions in the betting behind the three-year-old.