Countdown to the Kentucky Derby 125 days to go!

Countdown to the Kentucky Derby 125 days to go!

125 Days!!! 1894 Chant was the first of three Kentucky Derby winners to be sired by Falsetto, the second place finisher in the1879 edition. He was the 4th winner to be bred by A.J. Alexander, and was owned by Robert Rose and his trainer, Eugene Leigh. Leigh, who had many good horses in his charge, offered trainer Charles H. Hughes the chance to purchase Chant, insisting that he was good enough to win the Derby.

He wanted to get back to the east coast to train the great Clifford that was in his stable. Hughes though, was confident in his contender, Pearl Song, and told Leigh that he had the Derby winner in his barn. There was no sale, and the encounter ended in Hughes betting Leigh $500 that Pearl Song would beat Chant.

Around 15,000 people showed up to view the 20th running of the Kentucky Derby.They braved a noon time shower that did little to dampen their spirits, but it did help to lessen the dust. Chant would win the Phoenix Stakes prior to running in the Kentucky Derby, and was made the heavy favorite. He would win easily after taking the lead before reaching the half mile. The 6 furlong time of 1:18 ½ was the slowest half mile of any eventual winner that led at that point of the mile and a half race. He would be under a hard restraint by jockey Frank Goodale, but would sail under the wire ahead by at least 6 lengths, the biggest margin of victory at that time.

The record of today is shared by several horses at eight lengths, but some reports had Chant’s victory of 10 lengths, which would be the record if it was true. The time was 2:41, and there were 15 lengths between the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. Chant raced 25 times as a 2YO and 33 times at 3. He became the 6th horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Clark Handicap.

His jockey, Frank Goodale, passed away a few days later when a horse named Judge Payne that he was riding stumbled and fell. In 1894, the New Town Jockey Club would be the first track to have racing by electric lights. About 880 incandescent lights and 22 arc lamps were installed for an 8:00pm post time.

Rickelle  Nelson

Rickelle Nelson

Reservations Manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum