Countdown to the Kentucky Derby- 85 days to go!

Countdown to the Kentucky Derby- 85 days to go!

85 Days!!! Cavalcade won the 60th running in easy style, taking the running by 2 1/2 lengths in a time of 2:04. His jockey, Mack Garner, had tried unsuccessfully to win the race for nearly 20 years, riding in his first Derby in 1916. Apparently everyone deemed 1934 his year, and made the duo the favorite.

Born in Centerville, Iowa, the young Garner made his way to the track to begin riding races. He rode in his first stakes races in 1915, the year that great Regret won the Kentucky Derby. 1934 was also the year of Regret’s passing, when she died three days after giving birth to her last foal, three weeks before the Derby. Cavalcade was born in the United States, after being conceived overseas. His dam *Hastily was bred to *Lancegaye, a successful British racehorse, who had been victorious in the Hardwicke Stakes and Great Northern St. Leger, as well as finishing second in the 1926 Epsom Derby, the Kentucky Derby’s model. *Hastily was shipped to the United States while in foal, to breeder F. Wallis Armstrong’s New Jersey Meadowview Farm, where she would foal the brown colt. As a yearling he was sold at auction for $1200 to Mrs. Isabel Dodge Sloane’s trainer, “Whistling Bob” Smith, who picked the new recruit. Smith was taken with the colt, mainly his easy-going attitude, affectionately nicknaming him “The English Gentleman”.

At two, Cavalcade had a promising year, with 11 starts, placing in 8 of them. His biggest win would be in the Hyde Park Stakes; however his placing in five stakes races along with the win was enough to earn 2YO Champion Colt honors. His 3YO season was his best, winning six of his seven races, though he became difficult to train. It's possible that the issues with his training were because he winged out badly. It was such an issue that he became known as "The Side Wheeler", causing Garner to commonly run Cavalcade to the outside so that he wouldn't hit anything or another horse.

The 60th Anniversary of the Kentucky Derby was a big turnaround from the past several years of the depression. As result of the end of “The Great Depression”, the track was full to overflowing again, with 75-80,000 attending the yearly event. The mood wasn’t dampened by a rain storm that passed through about an hour before post time, considering that the sun came back out in force in time for the race.

Thirteen horses went post ward for the Kentucky Derby, with Cavalcade being the betting favorite, mostly due to everyone believing that it was finally Mack Garner’s year. Cavalcade broke in 11th position, which wasn’t surprising since the colt had to have competition before becoming interested in the race. Garner was content to sit behind the field until they reached the backstretch. Once they passed the half mile, Cavalcade turned his mind to the race at hand, and began making his way to the leaders. The filly Mata Hari had set the pace throughout the race, staying in front of Discovery. Discovery’s jockey began to make a move to overtake the filly, although it was too soon, leaving his charge little to fight off the challenge of the rallying Cavalcade. Garner had taken Cavalcade wide to circle the front-runners, as a result the chocolate colt thundered down the stretch to victory.

Mrs. Sloane would become the 5th woman to own a Kentucky Derby winner, proudly leading her beloved horse into the “Victory Park” winner’s enclosure. In the Preakness, Cavalcade came in second by a nose to his stablemate High Quest, his only loss of the year. The connections then chose to skip the Belmont in order to run in the American Derby, where he set a new course record. He proceeded to set a new track record in the Detroit Derby, and then came from last to first to win the Arlington Classic. His campaign was enough to have him recognized as Champion 3YO Male, together with Horse of the Year.

Consequently he was featured on the cover of the August 20, 1934 Time Magazine and the Selcher and Righter Company made a horse racing game named Cavalcade in honor of the Derby winner. Cavalcade was retired to stud at Sloane’s Brookemeade Farm in VA, and then sent to Lexington for more opportunities. He would return to the Virginia farm for a time with plans to return him to Lexington for the breeding season.

In the shipping process he came down with Shipping Fever and passed. He was buried at Mrs. Sloane's Brookemeade Farm. Cavalcade’s best son was a horse named Dinner Party who won 37 Steeplechase races.

(Cavalcade’s race worn Kentucky Derby saddle, courtesy of the KY Derby Museum archives)

Rickelle  Nelson

Rickelle Nelson

Reservations Manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum