By Mint Julep

Count Turf Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

kentucky derby winner count turf 1951

Join Count Turf on a fascinating journey through his captivating life story – from growing up at Runnymede Farm to achieving an unexpected victory at the 1951 Kentucky Derby. Discover his early challenges, impressive performances, and ultimate triumph in the Derby. Follow his career after the race as he changed trainers, faced limited success, and retired due to lameness. Learn about Count Turf’s lasting impact as a sire, his prestigious lineage in horse racing history, and the annual events that celebrate his historic win.

Early Life and Family Background

Count Turf, born in 1998 at Runnymede Farm in Kentucky, was purchased by the spirited New York City restaurateur Jack Amiel for just $3,700 during a lively yearling sale. The colt got his name from his esteemed sire Count Fleet and Amiel’s bustling Turf Restaurant located in Times Square.

This majestic chestnut horse showed promise right from the start with lineage tracing back to the illustrious Count Fleet. As he galloped through lush fields under blue skies at Runnymede Farm near Paris, Kentucky—a place known for nurturing champions—his destiny seemed destined for greatness. With every thunderous hoofbeat echoing through the pastures that cradled him as a foal, it was clear that Count Turf possessed grace and potential bound to captivate hearts.

Amidst rolling hills and green meadows where thoroughbred dreams took flight stood young Count Turf—an embodiment of elegance against nature’s canvas. His sleek coat shimmered under the sun as he pranced alongside peers bred from excellence; there was an aura about him whispering tales of triumph yet untold but soon to resonate across racing circles far and wide.

In those early days when dawn painted rose streaks upon velvety skies above Runnymede Farm—the birthplace of legends—it became apparent that fate had woven intricate threads binding man and horse together in a timeless dance. Through dew-kissed mornings spent honing skills amidst seasoned trainers’ guidance emerged not just another racer but an icon-in-the-making whose name would be etched in history books for generations to come.

Whispers carried tales of prowess echoing through valleys where bluegrass swayed harmoniously with windswept melodies sung by ancient oaks—Count Turf strode forth into destiny’s embrace like a gallant knight readying himself for battle on hallowed grounds where heroes are forged and memories immortalized in rhythms only true champions can compose…

Introduction to Racing

When Count Turf was just a young horse of two years, he showed great promise by coming in second place in races like the Youthful Stakes and Christiana Stakes. These early performances hinted at his growing skills and paved the way for what was to come in his racing journey.

His big breakthrough came when he turned three, catching widespread attention as he headed towards the prestigious 1951 Kentucky Derby. Fans were eagerly waiting to see how Count Turf would perform in this iconic race, raising excitement levels all around.

The hype leading up to the Derby had everyone in the racing community closely watching Count Turf’s progress. Going from being a hopeful contender to becoming a favorite stole the spotlight and made history within thoroughbred racing.

On that unforgettable day at Churchill Downs in May 1951, Count Turf exuded confidence alongside other talented horses competing for victory. The thrilling atmosphere of the Derby added even more excitement and charm to an already captivating story playing out before spectators’ eyes.

Securing victory at Churchill Downs not only solidified Count Turf’s position as a champion but also established him as a symbol of resilience, talent, and unwavering spirit within horse racing folklore for generations to come.

The Pros & Cons of Count Turf's Journey


  1. Count Turf won an amazing race at the 1951 Kentucky Derby

  2. Count Turf left a lasting mark as a top racing champion

  3. Count Turf's success continues to influence horse racing today

  4. The story of Count Turf inspires upcoming generations of racehorses


  1. Horse racing can be super competitive and has its fair share of challenges and risks.

  2. Racehorses, like Count Turf, face a lot of physical demands throughout their careers.

  3. Injuries or setbacks can happen to racehorses, affecting how well they perform in races.

  4. A racehorse's career is short-lived and eventually leads to retirement from competitive racing.

Kentucky Derby Victory

In 1951, Count Turf shocked everyone by winning the Kentucky Derby as a long shot at 15-1 odds. His victory is still talked about in horse racing history today. Despite being considered an underdog, he delivered an outstanding performance that day and finished four lengths ahead of Royal Mustang, cementing his status among Triple Crown greats.

This surprising win immediately put Count Turf in the spotlight, highlighting his exceptional talent and determination on one of the biggest stages in horse racing. Fans and experts were amazed by this unexpected champion’s incredible speed and endurance—a true testament to how unpredictable thoroughbred racing can be.

Not only did the Kentucky Derby triumph propel Count Turf to new heights of fame, but it also made him a legendary figure in horse racing lore. His journey from obscurity to glory represents resilience and excellence in sports—an inspiring story cherished by fans worldwide.

With every step taken towards victory at Churchill Downs that day, Count Turf created a legacy beyond just numbers or awards. His triumphant race embodied determination and perseverance ingrained within all champion horses—a timeless tale destined to motivate generations of fans and aspiring equestrians alike.

Post-derby Performances

After winning the Kentucky Derby, Count Turf took a different route than usual for Triple Crown contenders. He decided to skip the Preakness Stakes and instead aimed for victory at the Belmont Stakes, where he finished in seventh place. Under new trainer Bill Finnegan’s guidance, Count Turf faced challenges on the racetrack that affected his performances after his Derby win.

Although he started strong by winning at Churchill Downs, Count Turf struggled in subsequent races. Trying to regain his former success on tracks throughout America proved difficult as he couldn’t match his outstanding performance from that memorable day in 1951. The period following his “Run for the Roses” victory was filled with highs and lows as he navigated various racing conditions and competitors.

Over time, it became clear that recurring lameness issues meant Count Turf’s days of racing were numbered. His last big moment came when he won the Questionnaire Handicap in 1953 before retiring from competitive racing altogether. Despite facing challenges towards the end of his career, Count Turf made a lasting impact on thoroughbred racing history through both his unforgettable Kentucky Derby triumph and resilience during tough times afterward.

Count Turf’s story reminds us how even champions encounter obstacles along their journey – showing determination despite setbacks or limitations. While his post-Derby races didn’t reach the same heights as that iconic day with jockey Conn McCreary, they tell a familiar yet moving tale within horse racing lore: one marked by successes and struggles fitting of a true competitor like Count Turf in this cherished sport we love so much.

Triple Crown Winner: Count Turf's Legacy

Attribute Information
Name Count Turf
Sire Count Fleet
Grandsire Reigh Count
Dam Delmarie
Damsire Pompey
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1948
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Dr. & Mrs. Frank Porter Miller
Owner Jack Joseph Amiel
Trainer 1) Sol Rutchick 2) William B. Finnegan
Record 45: 8-4-6
Earnings $166,375
Major wins Dover Stakes (1950), Questionnaire Handicap (1953), U.S. Triple Crown win: Kentucky Derby (1951)
Honours Count Turf Drive, Louisville, Kentucky

Stud Career

After retiring from racing, Count Turf began a new chapter as a stud at different farms. He spent time at Almahurst Farm and Windy Hills Farm, aiming to pass on his winning genes to future generations of racehorses. While he didn’t have much success in producing top winners, Count Turf left behind a lasting legacy that went beyond the racetrack. One of his notable offspring was Manassa Mauler, named after the famous boxer Jack Dempsey’s nickname—a tribute to athleticism and strength.

Count Turf may not have consistently produced top-level winners during his stud career. However, his influence could be seen in bloodlines even if it wasn’t immediately obvious on the track. Each new generation carrying hints of his lineage continued to shape the genetic makeup of thoroughbred racing subtly but significantly. His impact extended beyond flashy victories into quiet whispers woven into pedigrees that spoke volumes about his enduring presence.

Despite only having two stakes race winners as a sire, Count Turf showed that greatness isn’t solely measured by immediate success. The echoes of his triumphs reverberated through every foal sired by him—each hoofbeat carrying a piece of history across tracks near and far. In breeding circles where legacies are built over time rather than quickly, Count Turf served as a reminder that persistence often leads to timeless contributions that surpass fleeting moments of glory from days gone by.

Legacy and Honors

Count Turf made history by winning the Kentucky Derby, adding to a rare lineage of winners that includes Reigh Count and Count Fleet. This family connection in horse racing emphasizes how bloodlines can impact the sport across generations.

An annual event called the Count Turf Drive is held in Louisville, Kentucky to honor his achievements. The drive reminds us of his remarkable legacy in horse racing history and brings fans together to celebrate his enduring impact. These events help preserve the memory of this exceptional racehorse who captured hearts with unforgettable performances on the track.

Count Turf’s influence goes beyond just winning races; he inspires future horses and riders striving for greatness. His story offers hope for underdogs everywhere, showing that determination and skill can lead unexpected contenders to success amidst tough competition.

By commemorating Count Turf through events like the Count Turf Drive and keeping alive stories of his victories, we ensure that his name remains a part of horse racing history. As fans gather each year or reminisce about past races where he triumphed against all odds, they pay tribute not only to one horse but also an inspiring figure whose spirit embodies resilience,persistence,and unyielding spirit essential elements needed succeed in competitive sports arenas

Legendary Tales of Count Turf's Racing Legacy

  1. The Epic Story of Count Turf's Racing Triumph:

  2. In 1948, a remarkable racehorse named Count Turf was born and went on to achieve glory by winning the prestigious Kentucky Derby in 1951, showcasing his exceptional racing skills.

  3. Surprising many with his victory, Count Turf defied the odds at 12-1 during the Kentucky Derby, leaving behind his competitors as he charged ahead to claim victory in this renowned race.

  4. Following his triumphant win at the Kentucky Derby, Count Turf continued to dominate in various other races, proving himself as a versatile and talented racer admired by all.

  5. Count Turf's influence extended beyond just racing success; he also became a beloved stallion and fathered offspring that would later shine on the racetrack with their own achievements.

  6. The thrilling tale of Count Turf still captures hearts today among horse racing fans everywhere, reminding us all of the electrifying unpredictability that makes this sport so exhilarating and unforgettable.

Pedigree Analysis

The lineage of Count Turf paints a vivid picture of excellence in the world of horse racing. With ancestors like Reigh Count and Pompey in his bloodline, greatness was always on the cards for him. The connections that ran through Count Turf linked him to renowned racehorses such as Counterpoint, creating a legacy deeply entrenched in a tradition of speed and stamina.

This intricate web of ancestry led to Count Turf’s triumphant win at the Kentucky Derby. His victory not only highlighted his exceptional talent but also proved the enduring impact of his distinguished lineage. Through sheer determination and unwavering spirit, Count Turf carved out his place among legends in the history books.

Beyond just genetics, Count Turf embodied the true essence of thoroughbred racing—a fusion of skill, heart, and relentless dedication. His pedigree wasn’t merely names on paper; it was a tale told through hoofbeats on racetracks, resonating with each stride towards glory. In every gallop he took forward that generational legacy—proof that greatness isn’t simply inherited but earned through hard work, perseverance, and an unstoppable drive to succeed.

Ownership Changes

Jack Amiel made a big change when he left the famous Turf Restaurant and teamed up with Jack Dempsey’s Broadway Restaurant. He kept owning Count Turf for most of the horse’s successful racing career. Handling both roles showed Amiel’s wide interests and how dedicated he was to food and horse racing.

Amiel smartly split his ownership between restaurants and racehorses, showing his mix of business smarts and love for horses. Being able to manage these different worlds highlighted his skills as a businessman while focusing on helping Count Turf win races.

The close link between running restaurants and investing in horses represented Jack Amiel’s cool way of driving success in various areas. By overseeing Count Turf’s journey alongside growing ventures in New York City’s lively dining scene, Amiel created an exciting story blending delicious food with thrilling racetrack wins. This smooth blend showed how good he was at handling many passions while guiding them toward success—making him not just a sharp entrepreneur but also a key player in shaping Count Turf’s lasting impact beyond simply changing owners.

Trainer Transitions

Transitioning trainers in a racehorse’s career is like exploring different paths; each coach brings their unique style, impacting the horse’s performance. When Count Turf switched from Sol Rutchick to Bill Finnegan, it was like adjusting gears during a race – a move that ended up being very beneficial for his racing journey.

Sol Rutchick initially set the pace for Count Turf, helping him refine his skills and navigate crucial races. But under Bill Finnegan’s guidance, Count Turf really hit his stride after tasting victory at the Kentucky Derby. This change marked a significant shift in strategy and training techniques that boosted Count Turf’s performance on the track.

The switch of trainers was a strategic decision aimed at maximizing Count Turf’s potential and keeping him competitive amidst evolving challenges. It demonstrated how important decisions behind-the-scenes can deeply impact a racehorse’s path and reputation in the sport.

With Bill Finnegan leading the way, Count Turf continued to impress spectators with his speed and endurance, cementing himself as one of racing’s most formidable contenders during that time period. The smooth transition between trainers showcased not only the horse’s adaptability but also highlighted how expert guidance plays a key role in shaping a champion.

Looking back now, these shifts in coaches were more than just changes in leadership; they represented chapters in an illustrious career characterized by resilience, flexibility, and unwavering determination—a true testament to both equine excellence and human expertise working together towards success on the racetrack.

Breeding Impact & Burial

Count Turf made a lasting impact on horse racing, despite not siring many stakes winners himself. One of his offspring, the fascinatingly named Manassa Mauler, was among the few. Count Turf’s influence went far beyond just his direct progeny – he played a significant role in shaping future generations of racehorses.

When Count Turf passed away in 1966, he left behind a legacy that is still remembered today. His resting place at Windy Hills Farm stands as a tribute to his historic Kentucky Derby victory and the determination that defined his career. Although he didn’t have numerous successful offspring during his time as a stallion, Count Turf’s genetic influence continued to resonate through pedigrees for years afterward.

Even after his death, Count Turf’s triumphs continue to be celebrated. His burial site at Windy Hills Farm serves as both a physical reminder and an emotional connection to an era where hard work and sheer willpower could propel an underdog like him into greatness with one remarkable run at Churchill Downs. Despite being smaller in stature than some other well-known figures in racing history, Count Turf stood tall when it counted most—a symbol of hope for all who dare to dream big against all odds.

Looking back on Count Turf’s life after retirement—marked by modest successes as a stud but overshadowed by unwavering spirit—one can’t help but marvel at how seemingly small achievements can lead to significant progress within an industry driven by speed and chance encounters on racetracks across America. In both life and death, Count Turf remains proof of resilience and unexpected victories—an iconic figure galloping through stories filled with hope amid uncertainty; truly embodying the essence that turns horse racing into more than just sport—it becomes poetry etched onto hooves pounding against turf while reaching for greatness.


1. What were the key factors that contributed to Count Turf's surprising victory in the 1951 Kentucky Derby?

The surprising victory of Count Turf in the 1951 Kentucky Derby was credited to his top-notch pedigree, smart race tactics, and the expert guidance of jockey Conn McCreary. This showcased his amazing speed and endurance on the Churchill Downs track.

2. How did Count Turf's breeding and lineage influence his racing career and eventual success on the track?

Count Turf came from a famous family, with his dad being the well-known racehorse Count Fleet and his mom named Delmarie. This gave him both speed and endurance, setting the stage for his amazing racing journey which ended in a big win at the 1951 Kentucky Derby.

3. Can you elaborate on Count Turf's performance in races following his Kentucky Derby win and how it shaped his legacy in the sport?

Count Turf won the Kentucky Derby in 1951. Following his victory, he also clinched the Withers Stakes and came in second at the Belmont Stakes. This established him as a skilled racehorse with an impressive track record after the Derby.

4. Who were the notable trainers and jockeys associated with Count Turf throughout his racing career, and how did they impact his achievements?

Sylvester Veitch trained Count Turf, who won the 1951 Kentucky Derby with Conn McCreary in the saddle. McCreary's skill and leadership were crucial in guiding the colt to victory on the racetrack.

5. What role did Count Turf play in shaping future generations of racehorses through his breeding legacy after retiring from the track?

Count Turf passed down his amazing speed and endurance to upcoming generations of racehorses, shaping the growth of strong bloodlines in thoroughbred racing.

6. How has Count Turf's remarkable journey from a Kentucky Derby champion to a sire of champions left a lasting imprint on the world of thoroughbred horse racing?

Count Turf went from winning the Kentucky Derby to becoming a top sire of champion horses. His success as a father has made him an important figure in horse racing, with his offspring achieving great things on the racetrack and leaving a lasting impact.