By Mint Julep

Clyde Van Dusen Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

1929 kentucky derby winner clyde van dusen

In this exciting tale, we follow the incredible journey of Clyde Van Dusen, an American Thoroughbred racehorse who was born in 1926. Despite his humble beginnings and with a lineage tracing back to the legendary Man o’ War, Clyde surprises everyone by winning the prestigious Kentucky Derby in 1929. This unexpected victory cements his place in racing history as he defies all odds.

After retiring from racing, Clyde transitions into a new role as an exercise pony under the guidance of his trainer namesake. Their special bond goes beyond the racetrack and showcases their unique connection. Discover how Clyde’s story embodies triumph against adversity and learn about his lasting impact on American Thoroughbred breeding and horse racing history.

Early Life and Family Background

Clyde Van Dusen was an American racehorse born in 1926, with legendary Man o’ War as his sire. Despite being called “a mere pony of a horse” due to his unimpressive looks, he was bred by Herbert P. Gardner, a businessman from Amsterdam, New York.

This unlikely underdog surprised everyone when he won the prestigious Kentucky Derby in 1929 against all expectations. Clyde Van Dusen’s victory at Churchill Downs amazed racing fans and firmly established him as one of the most surprising champions in history.

After retiring from racing, Clyde found fulfillment working as an exercise pony for young Thoroughbreds at different stables across the country. His calm nature and wisdom endeared him to all who met him during his post-racing days.

Racing Career Highlights

The 1929 Kentucky Derby win by Clyde Van Dusen was truly incredible. He raced against tough competitors like Blue Larkspur but managed to defy the odds and finish first with an impressive time of 2:10 4/5. The difficult conditions made his victory even more exciting, securing his spot in racing history as a surprising underdog who reached the top.

Clyde Van Dusen shared a special bond with his trainer that stood the test of time. It wasn’t just about training or races; their connection was built on trust, hard work, and mutual admiration. Their journey from humble beginnings to winning one of America’s most prestigious races showcased not only their skills but also their unbreakable relationship that went beyond the racetrack.

After retiring, Clyde Van Dusen found peace and purpose working as an exercise pony. Even though he no longer raced at top speeds or heard fans cheering for him, he continued to serve faithfully in a quieter role. His days were spent taking gentle trots around the training grounds, passing on wisdom to younger generations while reminiscing about past victories.

Exploring American Thoroughbred breeding history reveals stories filled with triumphs and challenges similar to Clyde Van Dusen’s own story. From renowned stallions laying foundations for future champions to unexpected dark horses claiming glory on famous tracks like Churchill Downs, each tale adds depth and color to horse racing lore – with Clyde Van Dusen standing out among these narratives.

Looking back today, Clyde Van Dusen’s legacy isn’t just about winning races; it embodies resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit that define real champions – whether human or equine alike. His story is a reminder that greatness often emerges from unlikely places – from forgotten stables tucked away in remote corners to enthusiastic crowds witnessing feats defying expectations . In every hoofbeat resonates the legend of an underdog turned hero whose name will forever be remembered throughout racing history – Clyde Van Dusen – a true icon among legends!

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. They inspire and motivate others with their stories of triumph

  2. They serve as role models for aspiring athletes and sports enthusiasts

  3. They aim to leave a lasting legacy in the world of horse racing

  4. They showcase the power of determination and perseverance

  5. Their performances provide entertainment and excitement to fans worldwide

  6. Through their efforts, they contribute to the rich history and tradition of the sport


  1. Both horses and jockeys risk getting injured or harmed.

  2. Feeling pressured to perform exceptionally can cause stress and burnout.

  3. Controversies arise over problems like doping or unethical practices.

  4. Intense competition might make sportsmanship less important.

  5. Public criticism can affect mental health negatively.

  6. Horses' well-being beyond racing often gets overlooked.

Post-kentucky Derby Performances

After winning the Kentucky Derby, Clyde Van Dusen faced tough competition but never gave up. Despite not securing another big win, he kept on racing with determination and courage. Over his career of 42 races, he earned a total of $122,402 – showing how hard work pays off.

When Clyde retired in 1933 at age 20, it marked the end of an incredible era for this amazing horse. Although he didn’t reach the heights of that famous day at Churchill Downs when he won against all odds, his legacy lives on in racing history. His story teaches us that success is about more than just awards; it’s about heart and never giving up.

In retirement as an exercise pony, Clyde enjoyed simpler days trotting around training grounds instead of racing in front of crowds. The bond between him and those who cared for him grew stronger during this time – each step telling tales of past victories mixed with well-deserved rest after years pursuing greatness.

Every hoofbeat told a story – one filled with bravery, challenge, triumphs and friendship forged through shared struggles under sunny skies on dusty tracks. Though Clyde’s journey moved away from fame to quieter moments where memories linger like morning fog over fields; within each memory lies a champion whose name carries hope against all challenges.

Retirement and Trainer Connection

After retiring from racing, trainer Clyde Van Dusen decided to keep the horse and use him as a companion for exercise. This new role after racing highlighted the strong connection between the racehorse and his beloved trainer.

Clyde Van Dusen’s choice to stay closely connected with his retired champion wasn’t just practical – it was a testament to their shared journey. While they were no longer in high-stakes races, there was something truly special about seeing Clyde Van Dusen trotting alongside his trusted friend, now enjoying a more relaxed pace of life.

As they circled the training track together each morning, it was clear that these two had been through a lot together. Their story became well-known among stable hands – a tale of overcoming challenges, achieving unexpected wins, and forming a deep bond on the racetrack that continued into quieter days filled with mutual respect and admiration for each other’s spirit.

Legendary Racehorse: Man o' War's Progeny

Attribute Information
Sire Man o’ War
Grandsire Fair Play
Dam Uncle’s Lassie
Damsire Uncle
Sex Gelding
Foaled 1926
Country United States
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Herbert P. Gardner
Owner Herbert P. Gardner
Trainer Clyde Van Dusen
Record 42: 12-7-8
Earnings $122,402
Major wins Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (1928)
Kentucky Derby (1929)

Legacy and Impact on Racing History

Clyde Van Dusen shocked everyone by winning the Kentucky Derby. This victory not only put him in a group of seven geldings who have won this famous race but also made him an underdog hero. Even though the odds were against him, Clyde surprised everyone and won over racing fans worldwide with his amazing win at Churchill Downs. His impact on horse racing history shows that even unlikely contenders can become champions on the track.

After winning the Kentucky Derby, Clyde Van Dusen didn’t continue to win big races, but he left a lasting mark on horse racing lore for years to come. The story of this tough gelding reminds us that success isn’t just about winning all the time; it’s about moments that stand out and stay in fans’ hearts for decades. In many ways, Clyde’s journey represents persistence, determination, and making the most of chances when they come—a story that inspires young jockeys and trainers.

As Clyde gracefully moved from competitive racer to retired exercise pony, he found peace in quiet days trotting along familiar tracks. While no longer chasing victories or speeding towards glory down homestretches, Clyde became a symbol of resilience and commitment in horse racing—an example of unwavering spirit amid change. His influence lives on as a guide for those who dream big despite their beginnings or limits as they strive for greatness both on and off the turf.

Humane Euthanization and End of Life

At the age of 22, Clyde Van Dusen was humanely put to sleep due to old age-related issues that brought an end to his journey from starting out with very little to ultimately becoming a Kentucky Derby champion. Throughout his impressive career, Clyde Van Dusen not only won races on some of America’s most famous racetracks but also captured the hearts of many. His victory at Churchill Downs in 1929 left spectators amazed as he beat the odds and outran favorites to win the prestigious title.

The bond between Clyde Van Dusen and his trainer went beyond words; it was a silent understanding felt only by those who saw their partnership in action. They faced both highs and lows together in racing, each win making their mark deeper in history. The story of this unlikely colt rising to greatness is a reminder that true champions are shaped not just by speed and agility but also by unwavering determination.

Even after retiring as an exercise pony, Clyde Van Dusen continued showcasing grace and resilience with every lap around the training track. His presence stood as proof of Thoroughbreds’ enduring spirit long after they retire from racing. During his final moments, surrounded by familiar faces who shared victories and challenges with him, Clyde Van Dusen peacefully left this world like a champion whose legacy will forever run alongside past and present legends.

Mythical tales and fascinating facts about Clyde Van Dusen

  1. ### Fascinating Stories and Facts About Clyde Van Dusen

  2. **Legend has it that Clyde Van Dusen got his name from an ancient hero.**

  3. – Some say that people named Clyde Van Dusen after a character from old stories, adding an air of mystery to his legend.

  4. **Clyde Van Dusen rocked the Kentucky Derby in 1929 with a big win!**

  5. – In 1929, Clyde Van Dusen crushed the competition at the famous Kentucky Derby, showing off his skills and securing a spot in horse racing history books.

  6. **Rumor had it that Clyde Van Dusen could sprint like lightning on the track.**

  7. – There were tales about how Clyde Van Dusen had this crazy ability to zoom ahead during races super fast, blowing everyone's minds!

  8. **Everyone adored and respected racehorse superstar Clyde Van Dusen.**

  9. – With his charm and charisma, Clydesdale was a favorite among fans who couldn't get enough of him in the exciting world of horse racing.

  10. **Ancient prophecies supposedly foretold success for none other than our own legendary racer – Clyde van Duuuu-sennnnn!**

  11. – As per myths passed down through generations, predictions ages ago hinted at someone just like our buddy Clydesdale taking over tracks everywhere with triumphs celebrated for centuries to come!

Breeding Lineage and Bloodline Heritage

Clyde Van Dusen came from a long line of champion racehorses, with his dad being Man o’ War and his mom Uncle’s Lassie. This meant he had top-notch genes from Fair Play and Uncle in his family tree, which is pretty cool for American horse breeding history. Not only did Clyde inherit amazing racing skills from this impressive lineage, but he also made a mark in the world of horse racing.

Thanks to these famous bloodlines mixing together, Clyde Van Dusen stood out on the racetrack. He went from being an underdog to pulling off a surprising win at the fancy Kentucky Derby. It was all about blending those strong genes that gave Clyde the strength and spirit to handle tough races like a champ.

But it wasn’t just about winning races for Clyde Van Dusen – his story goes beyond trophies. It’s about showing resilience, passion, and staying dedicated no matter what life throws your way. His journey highlights the special bond between humans and horses forged through shared victories, hurdles faced together, and respect for each other’s strengths. Even today, we can still feel the impact of his brave runs in every Thoroughbred racehorse lover’s heart as they admire their grace and beauty on track.

Owner-breeder Relationship Dynamics

Breeder Herbert P. Gardner and owner Herbert P. Gardner didn’t just carry out a business deal; their bond was fueled by a shared love for the thrilling world of horse racing, which unexpectedly brought them together. They decided to name their prized racehorse after his dedicated trainer, Clyde Van Dusen, as a symbol of the deep respect they had for each other’s contributions to the sport.

This special connection gave Clyde Van Dusen’s identity extra layers of meaning, transforming him from an ordinary racehorse into a living tribute to the partnership between two men who believed in his potential against all odds. It wasn’t just about winning races or earning praise; it was about acknowledging the spirit of perseverance and determination that both Gardners saw in Clyde Van Dusen every time he raced down the track.

By naming him after his trainer, they showed how much they trusted Clyde Van Dusen’s skills and character—a nod not only to his physical abilities but also to his competitive spirit. This gesture perfectly captured the essence of their relationship: based on mutual understanding, unwavering support, and a joint vision for achieving greatness beyond what anyone could have imagined when they first laid eyes on this unassuming colt with big aspirations.

As fans admired Clyde Van Dusen’s wins at races, little did they know that behind each victory lay a complex network of connections—between breeder and owner, trainer and horse—that intertwined dedication, affection, and faith in something larger than themselves. Through naming him after Clyde Van Dusen , these two exceptional men immortalized more than just a name—they created an enduring legacy that continues inspiring generations of racing enthusiasts to dream big without underestimating what an underdog story can achieve right before their eyes.

Unconventional Appearance Yet Remarkable Success

Clyde Van Dusen was underestimated at first because of his small size and unimpressive physique. But he surprised everyone by excelling on the racetrack, especially when he won the Kentucky Derby against more favored competitors. This story of an underdog captured the hearts of racing fans worldwide, showing that true greatness can come from unexpected places.

His victory at Churchill Downs showcased Clyde’s tenacity and spirit. Despite not looking like a typical champion racehorse, he proved that determination and heart could outshine physical appearance. Guided skillfully by his jockey, Clyde raced with such intensity that every stride felt like rewriting history in front of our eyes.

The bond between Clyde Van Dusen and his trainer went beyond just being horse and rider; it was built on hard work and dedication. Their journey from obscurity to fame symbolized what makes horse racing magical – the trust shared between man and animal creating moments of pure magic on the track. Their victories were not just about winning races but also about defying odds with grace and determination.

As time passed, Clyde transitioned into becoming an exercise pony after retiring as a celebrated racehorse. Even though he no longer competed in major events like the Kentucky Derby, he found joy in helping young horses develop their skills during training sessions. His legacy continued through each hoofbeat resonating tales of resilience and strength.

Looking back at American Thoroughbred breeding history would be incomplete without recognizing Clyde Van Dusen’s unique contribution to this world of champions. His story is a reminder that success isn’t always defined by traditional standards but rather by sheer willpower and self-belief against all odds. Celebrating this incredible journey honors not only a remarkable horse but also embodies courage personified through thunderous hooves charging down legendary tracks.

Historical Context Within Horse Racing Evolution

Clyde Van Dusen’s story is a fascinating part of horse racing history that shows how unexpected contenders can make a lasting impact through big wins like the Kentucky Derby. Born in 1926, Clyde Van Dusen was bred by Herbert Gardner and trained by Charles Thompson, an unlikely team that exceeded expectations. Despite his smaller size compared to other horses at the time, Clyde Van Dusen surprised everyone with his determination on the track.

In 1929, he won the Kentucky Derby with jockey Linus McAtee against all odds at 19-1, becoming one of the most surprising champions in Derby history. His victory showcased both underdog tales that capture global audiences and the rich tradition of American Thoroughbred breeding where talent often emerges unexpectedly. This win not only cemented his place in racing lore but also endeared him to fans who admired his journey from overlooked contender to celebrated champion.

After retiring from racing following several impressive victories beyond just the Kentucky Derby – such as triumphs in races like Latonia Championship Stakes and Washington Park Handicap – Clyde Van Dusen found a new role as an exercise pony, trotting around tracks during morning workouts alongside young racehorses. This post-racing phase illustrates the enduring bond between horse and trainer as he continued contributing to the sport he adored long after retirement, embodying resilience and dedication typical of true champions across various fields.


1. How did Clyde Van Dusen defy the odds to win the Kentucky Derby?

Clyde Van Dusen overcame the odds and won the Kentucky Derby by demonstrating his determination, talent, and courage. This victory showed that champions can come from anywhere, even unexpected sources.

2. What was Clyde Van Dusen's journey like after his racing career ended?

After retiring from racing, Clyde Van Dusen embraced a new role as an exercise pony, actively contributing to the racing community with enthusiasm and commitment.

3. What role did Clyde Van Dusen's trainer play in his success and post-racing life?

The trainer of Clyde Van Dusen played a crucial part in helping him win the Kentucky Derby and transition into a new role as an exercise pony after retiring from racing. Their strong bond was built on overcoming obstacles together and celebrating successes, shaping their journey both on and off the track.

4. How does Clyde Van Dusen's story contribute to the rich history of American Thoroughbred breeding?

Clyde Van Dusen surprised everyone by winning the Kentucky Derby and then went on to become an exercise pony. This shows how American Thoroughbred breeding can produce horses that are tough, adaptable, and full of spirit.

5. What makes Clyde Van Dusen's victory in the Kentucky Derby stand out among other racehorse triumphs?

Clyde Van Dusen's win at the Kentucky Derby is remarkable because he was an underdog who beat the odds, showing true perseverance and triumph in horse racing.

6. How did Clyde Van Dusen's experience as an exercise pony reflect his enduring spirit and legacy in the racing world?

Clyde Van Dusen's strong commitment as an exercise pony highlighted his lasting determination and cemented his reputation as a cherished individual in the racing community. He exemplified resilience and grace, characteristics that characterized his incredible transition from Kentucky Derby champion to life after retirement.