1933: The Fighting Finish
You know the picture, but do you know the story? The 1933 Kentucky Derby ended in a brawl between Don Meade, aboard Brokers Tip, and Herb Fisher who rode Head Play. Brokers Tip made a late dash to the front of the pack down the stretch. As Meade approached Fisher, the two began using their whips on each other.
The race ended as a photo finish with the two jockeys still swinging on each other. The problem is there was no photo finish in 1933. Race stewards declared Brokers Tip the winner by a nose.
It was the only race Brokers Tip ever won. The jockeys were suspended for rough riding, and Fisher received an additional five days for starting a fistfight with Meade in the jockeys’ room, insistent that his horse won the race.
1957: Shoemaker’s Folly
Legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker won four Kentucky Derby’s during his lengthy, illustrious career. If not for a late mistake in 1957, he’d have five. Aboard Gallant Man, Shoemaker misjudged the finish line. He pulled up just shy of the finish line, threw off his horse’s rhythm and was caught by Iron Leige, losing by a nose.
Enjoy the Happy Chandler cameo.
1996: Grindstone Denies Baffert
Searching for his first Kentucky Derby victory, Baffert’s Cavonnier took the lead with a quarter-mile to go. D. Wayne Lukas’ Grindstone made a late charge on the outside from 15th place to make a photo finish with Unbridled’s Song and Cavonnier. After several minutes, Grindstone was declared the winner by a nose.
1997: Silver Charm by a Neck
To win his first Kentucky Derby, Bob Baffert’s horse had to hang on down the long final stretch at Churchill Downs. With Gary Stevens aboard Silver Charm, he made a nice subtle move to the outside hold off Captain Bodgit. “HERE COMES THE CAPTAIN” is one of the great lines in Derby history.
The horse that made me love the sport, Silver Charm won the Preakness but was caught in the Belmont and beaten by a half-length. The following year Baffert’s Real Quiet won the first two legs, until Victory Gallop caught him with a photo finish in the Belmont. The 1998 Triple Crown loss is still painfully exhilarating.
2009: “An Impossible Result”
Mine that Bird went form last to first in one of the most incredible upsets in the 144-year history of the Kentucky Derby. The race filled with speed fell apart on the final turn and Calvin Borel earned his nickname “Bo-rail” by guiding his 50-to-1 long shot to a seven-length victory.
2015: American Pharoah “Finally The One!”
“Finally The One!” was actually Larry Columbus’ call from AP’s win at the Belmont. That is now the name of one of Phroah’s colts. People forget he narrowly won the Derby, taking down Dortmund and Firing line in essentially a three-horse race.
2018: “All Rise for Justify!”
The eventual Triple Crown winner broke The Apollo Curse and won in the middle of a downpour, the first in the history of the Kentucky Derby.