As we traditionally do every year, I have assembled a collection of very tough Kentucky Derby trivia questions and answers for you to test yourself with. If you get more than five of these right then you really know your stuff - and you might want to get a hobby outside of horse racing.
1. Thanks largely to Tapit, a gray sire who typically has gray offspring, we are on tap (pun intended) to have four gray horses running in the Kentucky Derby this year. What percentage of thoroughbreds are gray?
2. Steve Asmussen, trainer of Derby hopefuls Creator and Gun Runner, was elected to the National Racing Hall of Fame less than two weeks before this year's Derby. How many other trainers in the field have already been inducted?
3. Nyquist is expected to go to the post as the favorite in this year's race. It has been a golden age for favorites recently - California Chrome and American Pharoah were both favored, and both were, like Nyquist, based in California. Favorites have not always done so well, though. Keeping in mind that favorites typically win about a third of all races, between 1980 and 1999 how many favorites won the Derby?
4. The man who founded the Louisville Jockey Club and built Churchill Downs was the grandson of a famous adventurer. Which explorer was it?
a. Sir Ernest Shackleton
b. General William Clark
c. Daniel Boone
d. Kit Carson
5. Nyquist is not only the defending Two Year Old Champion Male but is the son of another two year old champion, Uncle Mo. American Pharoah was the most recent winner of both two year old championship honors and the Derby. So were fellow Triple Crown winners Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed (the award only started in 1971, so Secretariat was just the second winner). Overall, eight two year old champs have won the Derby. Counting American Pharaoh, how many of those have been since 2000?
6. Less than 30 Breeders' Cup Classic winners have gone on to have careers at stud, yet three are represented by sons in this race - Curlin, Tiznow and Pleasantly Perfect. Classic winner A.P. Indy has two grandsons in the Derby this year, and Derby, Preakness and Classic winner Sunday Silence is the damsire of Lani. In other words, Breeders' Cup Classic winners are generally very good studs. This year one Derby training will be looking to beat an offspring of a horse he won the Classic with. Which trainer?
a. Bob Baffert
b. Kiaran McLaughlin
c. Steve Asmussen
d. Dale Romans
7. In the short 21-year history of the Dubai World Cup, three different Derby winners have gone on to win the richest race in world, with California Chrome this year being the most recent. How many former winners of that race are represented by sons aiming to participate in this year's Derby?
8. Victor Espinoza has a chance to make history when he rides Whitmore. Espinoza has won the last two editions of this race on California Chrome and American Pharaoh. No jockey has ever won three in a row. How many others have won two straight?
1 - a. Eight of the 141 previous Derby winners (5.7%) were gray, so as a color they have been overachievers in this race.
2 - a. Only Bob Baffert has been so far. Todd Pletcher is a stone cold lock to be at some point, though, while Chad Brown is on track to be elected one day and Kiaran McLaughlin will get some votes.
3 - d. Spectacular Bid won as favorite in 1979, but no favorite prevailed again until Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.
4 - b. It was Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of the man of Lewis and Clark fame. Churchill Downs was named after his mother's family as they provided the land.
5 - c. Street Sense in 2007 is the only other one, and the first to win both since Spectacular Bid in 1979. Incredibly, six of the first eight two year old champs also won the Derby, with two winning two Classics and three winning Triple Crowns.
6 - c. Asmussen trained Curlin, the sire of Exaggerator. Neither of Baffert's two winners have racing offspring yet, and McLaughlin's Invasor has not had a very successful stud career so far.
7 - d. 2002 winner Street Cry is the sire of Trojan Nation. 2004 champ Pleasantly Perfect sired Whitmore. 2008 winner Curlin is represented by Exaggerator here.
8 - c. The most recent was Calvin Borel in 2009 and 2010 with Mine That Bird and Super Saver, respectively. The first was Isaac Murphy back in 1890 and 1891. Espinoza and Kent Desormeaux both have the opportunity this year to become just the fourth jockey to win the Derby at least four times, joining Bill Shoemaker with four and behind Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack with five each. Espinoza also has the chance to join Arcaro as the only jockey to win two Triple Crowns.
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