Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 57 Days to Go!

Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 57 Days to Go!

Decidedly, the 1962 Kentucky Derby winner, was bred by George Pope in California, at Pope's El Peco Ranch. He was the last California-bred to win the race until California Chrome would take it 2014. Additionally, he was also the second grey to win, following his sire, 1954 winner Determine. Determine was bred to the winning and stakes-placed mare, Gloire Fille, who was sired by War Glory, a son of Man O’War.

Pope would send Decidedly to the Argentinian trainer, Horatio Luro, who first became famous for training the import *Princequillo, a multiple stakes winner that went on to be an influential stallion in the United States and abroad. Decidedly would be the first of two Kentucky Derby winners for the personable Luro, preceding the great Northern Dancer who would win in 1964 by a neck over Pope's favored Hill Ride. Decidedly’s racing career started with 2 wins, a second, and a third in his eight starts at two.

After starting his 3YO campaign, the grey colt would develop a cold and then a virus in March, which caused him to miss the Flamingo and then the Florida Derby. Due to the time he missed because of the sickness, Decidedly took some time to come around, finishing second in his three preps before the Derby. The connections decided to send him to Kentucky to prep, where he would run twice at Keeneland. Picking up the riding services of Bill Hartack for an allowance and the Blue Grass, the duo would finish second in both, after which Hartack passed along that he felt that the colt could benefit with the addition of blinkers. Making the equipment change, which did the job in keeping the drifter in line, Decidedly would go off at odds of 8-1 in the Kentucky Derby.

A field of fifteen made their way to the starting gate for the 1962 edition. Decidedly would run toward the back of the pack through the first part of the race over a fast track. At the half mile, the grey was tracking in ninth, and when they passed the ¾ mark, he had only improved one position. The race in front of Decidedly and Hartack was constantly alternating, as the lead changed four times before the field entered the stretch, when the pair would make their way to third. At the eighth pole, Hartack was able to able to get Decidedly a clear path to the outside, allowing the colt to come charging down the outside like a grey streak, winning by 2 ¼ lengths over the 26-1 Roman Line. Favorite Ridan would finish third, a neck behind Roman Line, yet a neck in front of Sir Ribot. Decidedly would take a full second off of Whirlaway’s 1941 record, passing the finish line in a time of 2:00 2/5, in addition to giving Bill Hartack his third Kentucky Derby victory.

Shipping to Pimlico for the Preakness, the grey would come in an eventful eighth, returning in bad shape and heated. He was bleeding badly from the nose on one side from a bump that happened during the running of the race. Even though he wouldn’t win the Preakness or Belmont, the Derby record wouldn’t be the last track record he would break. As a 4YO, Decidedly would set a track record for 1 mile and a 1/16 at Keeneland while winning the Ben Ali, in a season where he also won the Monmouth and Dominion Day Handicaps. Continuing to race at 5, the grey would win or place in 5 of his 10 starts. Retired to a career as a stallion, Decidedly had some success siring 19 stakes winners.

(Sterling can courtesy of Kentucky Derby Museum archives)

Rickelle  Nelson

Rickelle Nelson

Reservations Manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum