132 Days!!! 1887 Montrose was bred in Kentucky at McGrathiana Stud by Milton Young. Young’s sons, Jack and Tom would one day found the Thoroughbred Club of America.
Montrose would first be sold to W.S. Barnes, who would in turn sell him for $4,100 to the Labold Brothers, Alexander, and Ike, wholesale fish dealers of Cincinnati. The Labold Brothers would give the training duties to John McGinty. At 2, Montrose raced 13 times with a record of 2-2-2. The two wins were stakes races, the Free Handicap and the Cotton Exchange Stakes. His record at 3 out of 10 races was 3-2-4. He prepped for the Kentucky Derby in Lexington, finishing second in the Phoenix Stakes, and then winning the Blue Ribbon Stakes carrying 121 pounds.
Going into the Derby, even with a placing and a win, he was still the 6th choice in a field of 7 for the Kentucky Derby, at odds of 10-1. The day would start out with the threat of rain, and although it rained all around the area, it didn’t stop the crowd from piling in with an estimated 15-20,000 making the journey to watch the race. There was a brief shower at 2pm, but it didn’t alter the track, which was rated as fast.
The Kentucky Derby would have doubled the added money to the purse, from $1500 to $3000, making it competitive with other stakes races. This year the race was started from the chute which was a half-mile from the original grandstand, where previously it was started on the opposite side of the track. After one false start, the field was sent on its way.
Montrose was ridden by 17YO jockey Isaac Lewis, who guided the colt through traffic to take a two length lead by the first turn. When they came into the stretch, the duo was still leading by a length, and swung out to the middle of the track. Montrose, Jim Gore, and Jacobin were all driving, trying to reach the wire first. While the others tried to close in, Lewis asked more of Montrose, who refired and went on to win easily by three-quarters of a length, in a time of 2:39 ¼. The Brothers were said to have made $20,000 on Montrose’s victory, with $4,200 of that the purse money for winning.
The Louisville Commercial reported in its Derby Notes: Overheard in the crowd—“Who win?” eagerly. “Montrose,” sadly. “--------!” empathetically. Jim Gore came out of the race lame and was thought to have to be retired, but would come back to the races 8 days later, and win the Clark Stakes. Montrose was a stakes winner every season that he ran, through his 5YO year. At three, he also added the St. Leger Stakes to his resume. He would win 4 stakes at 4, and 2 at 5. Bill Corum, from the New York Journal, said of the Kentucky Derby, “Once you have seen the light and learned to be in Louisville on the first Saturday in May, you become a part of the Derby and the Derby becomes a part of you”.