The Kentucky Derby is nothing if not colorful. From the fashion to the saddle towels and even the red roses draped over the winner of the most prestigious event in horse racing, nothing is more colorful than the silks carried to post by each of the Kentucky Derby contenders representing each owner. The history of silks goes even farther back than the 142-year history of the Run for the Roses itself.
When organized horse racing first began in the early 18th century, there were no such things as program numbers, public address systems or closed circuit television. When England’s King Charles II first assembled race meets on the plains of Hempstead, the dukes and the barons had trouble figuring out which horse was which so they adopted racing silks — or colors — to distinguish their jockeys for easier viewing. And because they were made out of silk, they were referred to as “silks” and have kept the moniker since.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.
After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.
In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”
Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.
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