“This is it, Donerail.” Roscoe said as he patted the left-side of his black colt’s mane. The sky was clear. The stands, lining the race track, were filled. Roscoe led Donerail to their assigned starting gate. His booted legs straddled the number 9. He leaned down closer to his horse’s ear and whispered, “According to the posted odds, they think we can win once out of 91 races. But only once. How about we win this first one to show them they are right.” Then Roscoe pulled back on his saddle, gripped the reins tighter, and raised his eyes toward heaven. In his view were the Twin Spires. White, elegantly proportioned to match this elegant event. Today was the 39th running of the Kentucky Derby and Roscoe and Donerail were about to have the race of their lives.
“And their off,” was announced as 20 thoroughbred horses shot out of the starting gates. Their hooves galloped quickly across the dirt track. One complete time around the track and then another quarter run to the finish line.
Just prior to racing, the cheering crowd placed their bets. Three kinds are bets are made: to Win or come in 1st, to Place or come in 1st or 2nd, and to Show or come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Today, May 10, 1913 Donerail crossed the finished line first in just two minutes and four seconds, surprising the crowd. Those who placed a $2 bet on her to win, earned $184.90. Never in the history of the derby had a horse won with such long odds.
“We did it! We did it! Donerail, we won!” Roscoe slowed Donerail to a trot as he scanned the stands. The ladies wearing their finest Spring hats were standing and cheering. The men, sipping their mint juleps, were cheering. The owners and supporters for the favored-to-win horses were speechless.
“You ran and ran and out ran them all!” Roscoe now shouted as he directed Donerail to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. Once there, a large bouquet of red roses, the official flower of the Kentucky Derby, was handed to Roscoe.
Next, a circle of roses was held in front of Donerail’s nose. He sniffed and felt the flowers go up and over his ears and settle around his neck. Roscoe leaned forward and whispered, “Smell that, Donerail. It’s the smell of our race, our sweet, sweet race. Just like you, a sweet, sweet horse!” Owner and trainer, Thomas Hayes proudly stood in his bowler hat and suit, posing for photos. The fans and sportswriters, in awe of this hometown jockey and strong thoroughbred, cheered for this winning team who surprised all to win the 38th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 10, 1913.