Courtesy: Courier-Journal


Secretariat photographed taking peppermint out of female guard’s mouth at Churchill Downs!

Story submitted by Marilyn Potts’ daughter, Ruth Devore

"In 1973, My mother, Marilyn Potts (pictured on the right), was one of the two first women hired by Churchill Downs to guard the horses. She was assigned to the barn that housed Secretariat! In the picture, Secretariat is taking a peppermint out of her mouth! He loved his peppermints! The story was featured in the Courier Journal. The picture is signed by numerous horse owners and jockeys, including Penny Chenery and Ron Turcotte. She also received a rose from the garland of roses. She is now 90 years old and still loves everything Derby!"

Prize includes an exclusive Backstretch Breakfast Tour of Churchill Downs plus the Museum’s Box Seats at Churchill Downs to watch live racing during the Spring Meet. Marilyn Potts, her daughter Ruth, and four additional guests will experience the thrill of seeing Thoroughbreds thunder by at speeds nearing 40 miles per hour from the unique vantage point of the backside of Churchill Downs! They will be driven to the Infield on a golf cart where Derby revelers have partied since the first running of the Kentucky Derby in 1875! There, you’ll take in panoramic views of the Grandstand, the historic Twin Spires™, and the green-roofed barns where the horses are stabled. Finish your morning on the Backside of the track, where nearly 1400 horses live during the racing and training season. You’ll enjoy a light breakfast while you get an up close view of the horses’ morning training session.



All of the winners listed below will win a pair of General Admission tickets to the Museum which includes full access to all our exhibits, The Greatest Race experience, and a Historic Walking Tour of Churchill Downs.


Courtesy: Courier-Journal


A child’s drawing, a jockey’s wife’s dream, and winning the 1990 Kentucky Derby aboard Unbridled!

Story submitted by John Floyd’s aunt, Carol Rogers

"My nephew was in elementary school in 1990 and his teacher asked the class to draw a derby picture. The pictures were going to be put in the jockeys room during derby week. My nephew drew a picture of a horse winning the derby but he was going the wrong way on the track. Just so happens that his picture was put in jockey Craig Perret’s room. When Mr. Perret’s wife saw the drawing she said “funny thing, I had a dream last night that you won the derby but you were going the wrong way on the track.” Churchill Downs contacted the school to find the student that drew that picture and my nephew and his family was brought to the track to meet the jockey. The Courier Journal did a story about this and Craig Perret did win the Derby, going in the right direction, on Unbridled. That is a something that I think about every year at Derby."



They met in the infield the day American Pharoah won the Derby, and agreed to marry if he won the Triple Crown, got married the week after, and are still happily married!

Story submitted by Corinne Ray

"I met this man in the infield May 2nd 2015, Derby 141. We met and instantly clicked, we said we had derby magic. It was the year that American Pharaoh won. When the Preakness came, we were madly in love. Again American pharaoh won. We said it was our Derby magic that was making him win. I asked him what we would do if he won the Triple Crown. He said Let’s get married. 37 years that series of races hadn’t been won, so it seemed like a safe bet at the time. Belmont day rolls around, and I’ll be, that horse broke the curse. American Pharaoh won on Saturday and we went to the court house on Thursday and got married. 6 weeks after meeting, I married the love of my life. We celebrate 7 years next month. Some people call us crazy. But we just call it derby magic!"



Guest Services at Churchill Downs saves the day after man’s dog eats Derby tickets!

Story submitted by Tim Cooney

"My dog ate our tickets. Back in the day several years ago, you had to be INVITED to the Kentucky Derby the first time you applied for tickets. Once you received your 1st invite, paid your invoice, you were in. Then every year after that you would receive an invoice. So every year my wife and I requested tickets...year after year, no invite came. Then one year, after several years of requesting, it came, our Invitation to the running of Derby 132. A dream come true. The tickets arrived via UPS...the only problem was, we were not home and the tickets were put on our front porch. When we arrived home(it was dark out) I noticed a white and colored envelope on our lawn. I went and picked it up. It was our Derby tickets . Our dog had thought it was a chewy and ate most of the 2 tickets which were enclosed in the heavy cardboard envelope....the most important part of both tickets (the bar code) was gone. Panic, depression, anger all at once set in, didn't know whether to cry or scream. Well needless to say, Guest services at Churchill Downs was very accommodating and replaced the tickets after a phone call the next day....but who would ever believe me that my dog ate our tickets...The Derby was great and the dog well she lived a happy life and was never allowed outside when we were expecting another delivery."



At a house party near Churchill Downs, boyfriend writes “Will You Marry Me” on two $1.00 bills and proposes.

Story submitted by Andrea Penick

"Derby has always held a special place in our family. It started before I was even born. My grandparents lived right across the street from Churchill Downs. But the best Derby happened in 2016 when my son proposed to his girlfriend by writing "will you" on a dollar bill and "marry me" on another dollar bill and handed the money to her and asked her to go make a bet for him. When she read what was written on the money, he went down on one knee and asked her to be his wife. They are happily married today and it all started at the Derby!!"



Growing up with a father who worked on the backside of Churchill Downs, Derby Day is always a special day.

Story submitted by Allen White

"Growing up on M Street 4 blocks from Churchill and having my father whom worked the Backside for 30 years, then retiring…my Derby memories are many. Some of my best are from my teen age years. We would push borrowed grocery carts from pic-pac selling ice to vendors during the iconic Central block party before that ended, to standing on Taylor Blvd. parking cars in our backyards, it was always the time of year that family from afar would come and visit, my dad, my hero would always make sure I saw the race up front and personal from the backside, and still almost 30 years later and from 40 miles away in Bardstown, Kentucky, Derby Day is still celebrated with love, and the talk of our memories and seeing the excitement and the love of the Derby from my dad is something I look forward to every year. Being able to surprise my father with such a wonderful gift as this would be life changing I could pay him back for all those years of memories made between us on the backside."



A few years after man’s father “Ferdinand” passed away, he hears his father’s voice urging him to bet on Ferdinand in the 1986 Kentucky Derby—and wins $7,438!

Story submitted by Melissa Jeffries

"When I was 17 years old my dad (Stephen) was coming home from work, just as usual, a few days preceding the running of the 1986 Ky Derby. When the radio announcer wound up his story on who would be running in this year's race his ears perked up and he focused on a familiar name, Ferdinand. Ferdinand Smith was my grandfather and his Daddy, who had passed several years earlier. Right at that moment my dad says he heard his Daddys voice seemingly urging him to take a chance and bet on this horse. Though not a betting men..father or was not unknown for either one of them to occasionally try their hand at the sport. When he arrived home he relayed the weird experience he had gone through to his wife, Grace, and she encouraged him to make the bet. Throughout the next few days the experience of hearing this advice from his deceased dad played on Stephen's mind, to the extent that both he and his wife Grace decided to go ahead and do it. As to the amount of the bet, my dad and Grace had saved up 500.00 to purchase a new larger dining room table and agreed to use this cash on hand. My cousin, Lesa, was attending the race the next day and promised to make the bet for my dad. The night before the race, me and my 4 siblings had a hankering for pizza and my parents used one of the 100.00 bills to pay the bill. The remaining 400.00, which was a large amount of money for my family at that time, was safely turned over to my cousin to place the bet. Derby Day came and our extended family gathered as usual to enjoy the day with a pitch in dinner and home bets on the race. With so much of his hard earned cash riding on a horse whose odds ended up being 34 to one, my dad was a nervous wreck and slipped away home to watch the race alone. The bugle blew, the horses lined up, the crowd was loud and boisterous..and then THEY WERE OFF.. and Ferdinand fell back, back, back to the very last place and the hopes of the man who had heard from his father fell back with him. Anxiously scanning the screen and trying to find his horse, my dad came to the realization that Bill Shoemaker was doing some savy racing and little by little guiding his mount forward thru the crush of Derby contenders..gaining more and more on each horse ahead of him and passing them one at a time. His heart started pounding as he felt himself beginning to catch onto the hope of the possibility of winning again. He physically felt like he was pulling the great horse forward, faster and faster. As the finish line appeared Ferdinand was, against all odds, racing to be the first across. My entire family were all up on their feet, fists pumping the air and screaming as the impossible happened and Ferdinand won the 1986 Derby. When my dad cashed that ticket a few days later I believe his daddy, Ferdinand was patting him on the shoulder as the clerk handed him $7438.00!"



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