A Look at Kentucky Derby Jinxes Past and Present

by Greg Melikov

posted on April 27, 2012 in Educational Articles, General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby | No Comments >>

Rabbit's FootThere have been many jinxes connected with the Kentucky Derby over the decades. And some memorable curses have been snapped during the 21st Century.

One of the most discussed whammies 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.

Hansen, who has followed in Street Sense’s hoofprints thus far, goes to Louisville with his sights set on doing the same in ’12.

A training jinx ended in ’10 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. Bodemeister aims to overcome the long odds this year.

Bodemeister also figures in what I call Curse of the Major Derby Preps. It’s a four-parter that leaves off the Florida Derby since it produced winners Big Brown in ’08 and Barbaro in ’06 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’s up to Bodemeister to end that jinx, too.

The last Blue Grass Stakes winner to capture the Kentucky Derby was Strike the Gold in ’91. Dullahan 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.

Undefeated Gemologist is attempting to become the second Wood Memorial winner since Pleasant Colony in ’81 to visit the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. The other was Fusaichi Pegasus in ’00.

I’ll Have Another is trying to become the first Santa Anita Derby victor since Sunday Silence in ’89 to take the Kentucky Derby.

What do Creative Cause, Dullahan, Hansen, Liaison and Union Rags have in common? They won Grade 1 stakes as juveniles, a bad omen for recent Kentucky Derby runners. That’s because only four since ’85 performed the feat.

Street Sense, the fourth Derby champ in the past 27 years, won two of five races six years ago, including the BC Juvenile.

Real Quiet, the ’98 Derby-Preakness winner, only triumphed twice in nine starts as a 2-year-old, including the Hollywood Futurity.

Sea Hero, the ’93 Derby champ, was victorious in three of seven starts at 2, including the Champagne.

Spend a Buck, the ’85 Derby winner, was quite successful as a juvenile, winning five of eight starts, including the Arlington-Washington Futurity.