The solid gold trophy that will be presented to the owner of the 3-year-old Thoroughbred that wins the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 3, arrived at the historic track on Thursday, March 27.
The priceless trophy, which is believed to be the only solid gold trophy presented annually to the winner of an American sports event, will be on display at several public and private events in the weeks before it is formally presented to the winning owner following the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy is created each year by New England Sterling of Attleboro, Mass. and Marc Forbes, the company’s president, personally escorted the 14-karat gold hand-made trophy on its journey to Louisville.
“New England Sterling creates many wonderful pieces each year, but the winner’s trophy for the Kentucky Derby clearly remains our most special item,” said Forbes. “This solid gold trophy is produced specifically for each year’s renewal of the ‘Run for the Roses,’ and its value is, quite literally, priceless. Our team at New England Sterling is proud to be such an important part of the rich tradition of the Kentucky Derby, one of the world’s great sports events.”
The current version of the Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy dates to 1924, when Col. Matt Winn, Churchill Downs’ legendary general manager and eventual track president, commissioned the trophy for the “golden anniversary” running of the race. Two earlier versions of the trophy had been presented to the winning owners in 1922 and 1923.
Outside of jeweled embellishments made to the trophy for the special anniversary renewals in 1949 (75th Derby), 1974 (100th) and 1999 (125th), there has been only one significant change in the trophy’s design. That change also came in 1999, when track officials deferred to Thoroughbed racing tradition and changed the direction of a decorative horseshoe on the trophy. The horseshoe had pointed downward on each trophy created since 1924, but the design was altered and the horseshoe was turned up on the 1999 Derby trophy. Racing superstition holds that all of the luck will run out of a horseshoe that is turned downward.
The trophy, which is topped by a 14-karat gold horse and rider, has horseshoe-shaped wreath handles and stands 22 inches tall, which includes its jade base. The trophy weighs approximately 60 ounces.
New England Sterling also creates three smaller versions of the Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy that are presented to the winning trainer, jockey and the breeder of the Derby winner.
Information on New England Sterling Inc. is available on the Web at www.newenglandsterling.com.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2008. The track’s 2008 Spring Meet runs from April 26 through July 6. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record six times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.