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Determine, the first grey to win the Kentucky Derby, was bred by Dr. Eslie Asbury, a Cincinnati surgeon who owned Forest Retreat Farm near Carlisle, Kentucky. Determine was by the stallion Alibhai, out of the Mahmoud mare Koubis. Mahmoud, a grey, as well as Alibhai’s sire, Hyperion, were both winners of the Epsom Derby. Koubis, a grey mare, was born with a cleft palette that Asbury surgically repaired, saving her.  Asbury sent Koubis’s small grey son to the Keeneland yearling sales, where the colt was purchased for $12,000 by Andy Crevolin. Crevolin, who wasn’t aware that the colt was so tiny, commented that he must’ve been standing in a hole when he bought him. Asbury, overhearing, responded by offering to buy the colt back for $15,000. He had believed the colt was worth more, resulting in his trying to buy him back. Asbury almost persuaded Crevolin, due to the size, although Crevolin finally decided that he would keep him, as he may be losing out on a Kentucky Derby winner.  

Crevolin would send the youngster to Willie Molter for his groundwork and training. Racing in California as a 2YO, Determine would win four of his 14 starts, two of those being stakes, the San Francisco Handicap and Robert O’ Brien Handicap.  Remaining in California to start his 3YO campaign, the grey colt came in second in the San Vincente on January 9th. However once Determine was paired with jockey Ray York on January 20th for the San Gabriel Handicap, he would win 6 stakes in a row, including a victory in the Santa Anita Derby.   Shipping to Louisville for a chance at the Kentucky Derby, Determine was entered into the Derby Trial, coming in second to Hasty Road.  Owner Crevolin had been wearing his “Lucky” suit since the colt started his win streak in January, although he didn’t wear it when Determine ran in the Derby Trial. Not taking any chances, the suit made its appearance for the Kentucky Derby.  

The 80th Kentucky Derby was run in front of 100,000 people who made the journey to Churchill Downs for the running of the big race. They would view a bumper car of a Derby, as it was a roughly run contest. Timely Tip, who broke from the 14th hole in a field of 17, quickly cut across the field, causing a massive jam up. Determine and the favorite, Correlation, were both bothered by the swerving horse. Jockey York had to pull up Determine after an eighth of a mile had been run, so that he could go around horses that he was almost running on top of. Going to the outside, the pair was then able to be clear of all of the bumping and colliding that went on to the inside. Determine would turn the tables on Hasty Road, winning the Kentucky Derby by a length and a half in a time of 2:03.  

After the race, it was said that they would be going on to the Preakness, however the 870 pound horse came out of the race tired, leading the connections to decide that Determine needed a rest. Due to the fact that the colt hadn’t been nominated to the Belmont, they decided to skip the Preakness, instead shipping the Derby winner back to California.   Returning to the races on June 5th, Determine would win the Debonaire Stakes, prior to taking on his older stablemate, Imbros in the 8 ½ furlong California Stakes one week later. Determine would come in second to Imbros, though Imbros would set a world record time of 1:41 in the victory. Determines next start would be in the Westerner Handicap, where he placed third. Scheduled to run in the Arlington Classic, the colt had developed an abscessed jaw, as well as having splint trouble, resulting in his being knocked out of competition until November.

In his return, Determine would run third in the Pacific Handicap off of the layoff. From there, he would win 4 stakes in a row, two in December and two in January to start his 4YO campaign. With the two stakes wins in December, Determine would be the year’s leading money earner, with $328,700. As a 4 year-old, Determine would run in many of his races at high weights. He won the Malibu Sequel, and then the Santa Anita Maturity by disqualification, as he was heavily interfered with during the running of the race by a horse that won by a nose at the wire. Finishing second in the San Juan Capistrano, Determine would then win the Golden Gate Mile, before finishing another second in the Golden Gate Handicap. In the Californian Stakes, Determine would face the new Derby champion in Swaps. Toting 11 more pounds than Swaps, he would just be beaten while Swaps set a world record. Determine would wrap up his racing career with a win in the Inglewood Handicap and a third in the Hollywood Gold Cup.   Entering stud, Determine was retired in syndication as a package deal with his stablemate Imbros for $900,000. The two stallions would stand at Rancho Jonata in California, where Determine stayed until he passed in 1972. Determine would become the sire of the 2nd grey to win the Kentucky Derby, when his son Decidedly won in 1962.  

Rickelle  Nelson

Rickelle Nelson

Reservations Manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum