Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 107 days to go!

Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 107 days to go!

107 Days!!! 1912 Worth was foaled on Bosque Bonita Farm in Woodford County, Kentucky. His breeder, R.H. McCarter Potter, owned Request Stud in Andover, NJ; however, he always kept a string of mares at the Kentucky farm. He sold Worth as a yearling to C.T. Worthington for $425. Worthington thought so much of the colt, that he was said to have named him after himself. He sent Worth to the Gallaher Brothers for breaking and training, and the brothers, also impressed with the colt, made an offer and purchased the colt before his 2YO season for $3500.

At two, Worth ran 13 times.Although he finished unplaced in his first start, he turned it around by winning the next two. He then finished second in an allowance race before reeling off 7 wins in a row, including the Raceland and Bashford Manor Stakes. Following those wins, he finished uncharacteristically unplaced in his next start. Rebounding from the loss, he would then win a private match race with Sprite valued at $10,000. Worth was the top money-earning 2YO, as well as the 2YO Champion.

As spring arrived, many people were interested in the promising colt. One of the impressed was trainer Frank Taylor, who conditioned for owner H.C. Hallenbeck, a wealthy New Yorker who had just started in horse racing. Taylor made an offer on behalf of Hallenbeck and purchased the colt for $10,000. Following a morning rainstorm, the Churchill track was heavy and muddy, however the rain held off for the race, but committed to a downpour following the ceremony.  The seven starters weren’t exactly the best behaved for the starter, but once the barrier went up Worth shot to the front. Jockey Carroll Shilling kept the colt under restraint, being closely followed by Free Lance. With a quarter mile left, Free Lance dropped back while Duval and jockey Oscar Fain began their chase. Eating away at the mud, the duo closed the gap in the stretch, although they weren’t able to pass Worth, who was brilliantly hand-ridden by Shilling. Having led gate to wire, Worth and Shilling finished in a time of 2:09 2/5 over the slop. Worth paid more to place, $3.90, than to win which paid $3.60.

Worth was crowned Champion 3YO in a season that also saw his passing. During a race at Pimlico, he fell when a horse that was trailing him clipped his back heel. He severed two tendons in the accident. Hallenbeck did what he could to save the horse, knowing that he would never step foot on the race track again. Unfortunately, Worth developed blood poisoning as a result and succumbed to the injury.

The Kentucky Derby Diamond Jubilee book put it as, "The Derby was his second start as a 3YO. Worth died as a 3YO and racing will never know just how good a horse died." From the “History of the Kentucky Derby, 1875-1921”: "Worth, the favorite, won the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs this afternoon, just beating a heavy rainstorm, and by so doing saving the day for the moving-picture operators. The Kentucky Derby of 1912, the thirty-eighth renewal of the classic stake event, went to the horse which nine out of every ten horsemen and turf patrons conceded to have the race at his mercy. He did not win as easily as many expected, but he won, just lasting long enough to get the money and the honor from a dark horse. Duval, which would have paid 20 to 1 had he popped in front, was second, and Flamma, the only filly in the contest, was third. The time, 2:09 2/5, is about four seconds slower than that made by Meridian, the winner last year. Worth won by a neck, while Duval was five lengths in front of the filly, Flamma."

Rickelle  Nelson

Rickelle Nelson

Reservations Manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum