Mendelssohn, trained at Ballydoyle by Aidan O’Brien, is bidding to become the first European trained horse to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday night when the three year old son of Scat Daddy challenges for the ‘Run for the Roses’, the opening leg of American Racing’s Triple Crown.
Kentucky-born jockey Steve Cauthen, who enjoyed much success on this side of the Atlantic when based in England, has spoken about the importance of the Kentucky Derby to the US racing public.
“It is our Derby just like Epsom is England’s Derby. It’s got history, it’s got pageantry. Obviously it’s the best of the best in horses, trainers and jockeys.”
The 58 year-old who became the first jockey to earn over $6 million in a year in 1977 described the race’s importance in American horse racing:
“They arrive to try to win really the most coveted race in the calendar year.”
The youngest winning rider of the US Triple Crown in 1978 on Affirmed admits that the impressive purse of $2 million is no longer huge in comparison to other American races:
“Nowadays, there’s Breeders’ Cups and there are many races that are even more valuable than the Kentucky Derby.”
The only rider in history to win the Kentucky, Epsom, Italian, French and Irish Derbies admits however:
“ … that’s still the race (Kentucky Derby) that most owners and breeders, jockeys and trainers say is still the most coveted race in the calendar year here in America.”
Steve Cauthen was a three time British champion flat jockey who during his career in England won 10 English Classics, including the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Doncaster St Leger. In 1989, the ‘Kentucky Kid’ as he was known, rode the European Horse of the Year Old Vic to victory in both the French and Irish Derbies.
The winning owner Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai donated the prize money to The Curragh Racecourse to develop what became known as the ‘Old Vic Gallop’ on the plains of Co. Kildare.