The Kentucky Derby is America’s oldest continuous sporting event. One of the more interesting pieces of Derby lore involves Richard Nixon.

Nixon was in attendance as a presidential candidate when Dancers Image crossed the line to win the 1968 Derby. However, a post-race urinalysis of the horse reveled traces of an anti-inflammatory drug that at the time was illegal at Churchill Downs.

The second-place horse Forward Pass was declared the winner. Thus Dancers Image became the only Derby winner to be disqualified on the same day that Nixon — the only American president to resign from office — attended his first Kentucky Derby.

The following year, Nixon returned to Churchill Downs, fulfilling a promise he made to attend the Derby if he won the presidency. Majestic Prince won the race without incident. To this day, Nixon is the only sitting president to attend the Derby.

Did you know?

  • In 135 years, only 21 horses have ever led from start to finish.
  • 16 jockeys have won the Kentucky Derby in their only appearance in the race.
  • Jockey Willie Simms rode in two Derby’s and won them both (1896 and 1898). Simms is also the only African American jockey to win all three races that became the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes).
  • In 1929, Clyde Van Dusen won the Derby. The horse’s trainer was also named Clyde Van Dusen.
  • Derby rules state that colts and geldings can’t carry more than 126 pounds, and fillies can’t carry more than 121 pounds.
  • The first Derby broadcast on national television occurred May 3, 1952.
  • In 1970, Diane Crump became the first female jockey to ride in the Derby.
  • Bill Shoemaker was the oldest jockey to win a Derby. He was 54 when he rode Ferdinand to victory in 1986.
  • A horse’s height is measured in hands, with a hand equaling 4 inches. Thoroughbred’s typically stand 16 hands tall from hoof to withers (the top of the shoulders between the neck and the back).
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