26 Kentucky Derby Past Winners & Stats

Kentucky Derby: Pick a Letter, Any Letter, but ‘S’ Delivers

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!

storm the court

Storm The Court – US Racing Photo

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

Kentucky Derby Winners

Letter Wins Starters Last Winner Year
A 11 97 Always Dreaming 2017
B 13 192 Big Brown 2008
C 13 149 Country House 2019
D 7 109 Dust Commander 1970
E 2 50 Exterminator 1918
F 7 92 Funny Cide 2003
G 8 87 Giacomo 2005
H 5 84 Hill Gail 1952
I 2 41 I’ll Have Another 2012
J 5 47 Justify 2018
K 2 34 Kauai King 1966
L 7 81 Lil E. Tee 1992
M 9 117 Mine That Bird 2009
N 3 40 Nyquist 2016
O 4 45 Orb 2013
P 7 114 Pleasant Colony 1981
Q 0 7 N/A N/A
R 5 94 Real Quiet 1998
S 19 203 Super Saver 2010
T 5 109 Thunder Gulch 1995
U 1 16 Unbridled 1990
V 2 36 Venetian Way 1960
W 7 69 War Emblem 2002
x 0 N/A N/A N/A
Y 0 3 N/A N/A
Z 1 7 Zev 1923
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