There have been more jinxes associated with the Kentucky Derby than I care to recall. But there have been memorable curses snapped during the 21st Century worth mentioning.
One of the more discussed horse jinxes ended in 2007 when Street Sense became the first 2-year-old champion to capture the Derby since Spectacular Bid in ’79. The son of Street Cry also was the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to smell the roses, snapping the 0-for-23 results.
A training jinx ended last year when Todd Pletcher ended his 0-for-24 streak with Super Saver. Previously, the best his horses finished was second, Invisible Ink in ’01 and Bluegrass Cat in ’06.
The oldest Curse of Churchill Downs dates back to 1882 when Apollo roared down the stretch to capture the eighth Derby. He was the last winner that didn’t run as a 2-year-old.
I’d like to introduce a new jinx that I’m calling The Curse of Major Derby Preps. It’s a four-parter that leaves off the Florida Derby since winners Big Brown, ’08, Barbaro, ’06, triumphed at Louisville.
Smarty Jones was the last Arkansas Derby winner to score at Churchill Downs in ’04, the first since ’83 when Sunny’s Halo did it. Archarcharch attempts the feat this year.
The last Blue Grass Stakes winner to capture the Kentucky Derby was Strike the Gold in ’91. Brilliant Speed tries to end that losing streak.
Winner of the Wood Memorial has had a double jinx the past couple years: Eskendereya in ’10 and I Want Revenge in ’09 came up injured even before the Derby was staged.
Toby’s Corner is trying to become only the second Wood winner since Pleasant Colony in ’81 to visit the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. The other was Fusaichi Pegasus in ’00.
Midnight Interlude is attempting to become the first Santa Anita Derby victor since Sunday Silence in ’89 to take the Kentucky Derby.
Ironically, the last maiden-only winner to smell the roses was Giacomo, who ran fourth in the ’05 Santa Anita Derby, that returned the third highest payoff in history — $102.60.
The son of Holy Bull went to Louisville off five straight defeats, including two seconds and a pair of thirds.
His sire didn’t fare too well in the ’94 Kentucky Derby after taking the Florida Derby. The son of Great Above broke slowly and was carried wide on the first turn, never recovered and ran 12th in the slop to Go for Gin.
Holy Bull was on the sidelined for a spell, but then reeled off five straight victories in graded stakes that earned him top 3-year-old and Horse of the Year honors.
Giacomo was only the second sophomore since Proud Clarion in ’67 to take the Kentucky Derby without a stakes victory.