Kentucky Life celebrates Kentucky Derby day with a thoroughbred-themed episode. Roscoe Goose was a native Louisvillian who rode a longshot to Derby victory. Churchill Downs has been a Louisville landmark since 1875. Mint juleps are the signature cocktail of Derby Day. Zenyatta ignited horseracing fandom like no other horse in generations.
Roscoe Goose and Donerail: The Longest Odds
Everyone loves an underdog story, and one of the greatest in Kentucky Derby history happened in 1913, when Roscoe Goose rode Donerail to victory.
“We don’t seem to have a history of a lot of born-and-bred Louisvillians who made their careers at Churchill Downs,” says Chris Goodlett, Curator of Collections at the Kentucky Derby Museum. “I think [Roscoe Goose] was one of the earliest. He was born here in 1891. He got involved in horses at a pretty young age.
The History of Churchill Downs
It wasn’t the first racetrack in Kentucky, but Churchill Downs is by far the most famous. The Louisville landmark has been hosting the Kentucky Derby since its beginning more than 140 years ago.
“Churchill Downs came around in 1875, started by Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame,” says John Asher, Vice President of Racing Communications at Churchill Downs. “He’d been to Europe to see the great races there. He came back to the United States with the vision of launching a racetrack that would showcase the great horses that were already being bred in the state of Kentucky.”
The Mint Julep
No Kentucky Derby celebration is complete without a mint julep. The boozy concoction has been around since the 1700s when it was touted as a medicinal drink.
Joy Perrine, bar manager at Equus and Jack’s Lounge in Louisville, is a legend in the bourbon industry. She shared some advice on making the perfect mint julep with Kentucky Life’s Amy Hess.
Zenyatta: The People’s Racehorse
Legendary racehorse Zenyatta spent most of her career based on the west coast, but she was a Kentucky-born filly and is retired here now as a broodmare at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles.
Zenyatta’s race record is undeniable. She won 19 consecutive races out of 20 starts spanning from 2007 to 2010. But fans were drawn to the mare for more than just her dominance on the track. The personable horse seemed to enjoy performing for the crowds, and her human connections were happy to share her with the fans.