By US Racing Team
For those who prefer to bypass the past performances of the horses running in the 146th Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5, here’s one alternative: Bet the letters!
Thanks to Churchill Downs, we can provide you with all the intel you’ll need to go with the first letter of a horse’s name. The biggest Derby-winning letter is S – as in Storm the Court, Sole Volante and Shirl’s Speight, this year’s S horses.
So, if you like letters and long shots — and all three will pay handsomely – then S is your letter.
Among the S-winning Derby winners are three Triple Crown winners: Sir Barton (1919), Secretariat (1973) and Seattle Slew (1977). The others: Spokane (1889); Sir Huron (1906); Stone Street (1908); Shut Out (1942); Swaps (1955); Spectacular Bid (1979); Sunny’s Halo (1983) Swale (1984); Spend a Buck (1985); Sunday Silence (1989); Strike the Gold (1991); Sea Hero (1993); Silver Charm (1997); Smarty Jones (2004); Street Sense (2007); and Super Saver (2010).
Second biggest winning letter – it’s a tie between B and C with 13 apiece. The most recent B winner was Big Brown in 2008; the most recent C winner was Country House in 2019 (Country House finished second but was declared the winner after first-place finisher Maximum Security was disqualified for interference).
There are no B horses in this year’s Derby, and Caracaro is your only C choice.
If you like Tiz the Law, the likely Derby favorite, the letter T has won five Derbies, the most recent being Thunder Gulch in 1995.
Here’s a list of winners, followed by the number of starters for each letter and the most recent horse to win with that letter:
Note: Statistics from 2020 Kentucky Derby Media Guide
|I||2||41||I’ll Have Another||2012|
|L||7||81||Lil E. Tee||1992|
|M||9||117||Mine That Bird||2009|
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.