By Mint Julep

Donerail Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

1913 kentucky derby winner donerail

“In this engaging summary, you’ll follow the incredible journey of Donerail. Starting as a young foal in 1910, he went on to achieve an unforgettable upset victory at the 1913 Kentucky Derby. Learn intriguing details about his career after the Derby, including impressive wins at races like the Canadian Sportsmen’s Handicap and Hamilton Cup. Unravel the mystery surrounding his retirement and later life as a breeding stallion before vanishing from records following a brief return to racing in 1918. Dive into Donerail’s lineage – tracing back through generations reveals how his ancestry played a crucial role in shaping this legendary racehorse beyond just his historic triumph at the Derby.”

Early Life and Family Background

Donerail was a famous American racehorse born in 1910. He made history by winning the 1913 Kentucky Derby as an unexpected underdog. Donerail was bred, owned, and trained by Thomas P. Hayes in Lexington, Kentucky. His parents were McGee and Algie M., with jockey Roscoe Goose guiding him to victory.

Starting out quietly on the racetrack, no one could have predicted that Donerail would become a legendary figure in horse racing at Churchill Downs in May 1913.

The tale of this unlikely champion is one of determination and perseverance—qualities that not only led to his incredible win but also defined his outstanding career long after that memorable Derby triumph.

Preparations for the Kentucky Derby

Leading up to the 1913 Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs was getting a facelift to welcome a whopping 30,000 fans and offer a purse of $6,600. Betting got even easier that year with a lowered minimum bet of just $2, adding extra buzz to the event. Despite some doubts about Donerail’s chances from owner Thomas Hayes before the big race, jockey Roscoe Goose managed to persuade him into entering.

Donerail was definitely seen as an underdog with crazy odds at 91-1 when the Run for the Roses kicked off. But on that special day in May 1913, something incredible happened – against all expectations and obstacles, Donerail pushed ahead with fierce determination down the final stretch.

The scene at Churchill Downs that sunny spring afternoon in Louisville felt like watching two fierce warriors battling it out for eternal glory…

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends' Legacy


  1. Inspiring the next wave of racers to chase their dreams

  2. Keeping alive the rich history and tradition of horse racing

  3. Teaching important lessons in resilience and commitment

  4. Highlighting the incredible talent and skill of iconic horses

  5. Introducing more people to the thrilling world of horse racing

  6. Evoking a sense of nostalgia and admiration for past champions


  1. Overshadowing current achievements in the racing world is possible.

  2. It may create unrealistic expectations for modern racehorses.

  3. Unfair comparisons between different eras of racing could emerge.

  4. Romanticizing challenges and controversies faced by legends risks happening.

  5. Distracting from addressing current issues within the industry might occur.

  6. A narrow focus on past glory instead of present progress can result.

The Historic Victory at the Kentucky Derby

At the 1913 Kentucky Derby, Donerail pulled off a shocking upset by winning as the biggest underdog in Derby history with odds of 91–1 against him. Competing against horses like Ten Point and Foundation, Donerail surged ahead in the final stretch under Roscoe Goose’s guidance to set a new track record time of 2:04 4/5, securing his place in racing lore.

After triumphing at Churchill Downs, Donerail continued competing on various tracks across North America. While he didn’t achieve another monumental victory like at the Derby, his consistent performances impressed fans with his speed and endurance when facing tough opponents post-Derby.

Upon retiring from racing, Donerail transitioned to a second career as a stallion within the breeding industry. Although not every offspring inherited their sire’s lightning-fast genes, some descendants did find moderate success on racetracks themselves. Despite encountering obstacles along the way, Donerail’s legacy persisted through generations of horses carrying traces of his bloodline.

Post-derby Career Performance

After the Derby, Donerail experienced a mix of successes and challenges. He had his moment of glory at the Derby but struggled to maintain that level of success consistently on the racetrack afterward. With 62 races under his belt, Donerail won 10 times, placed in 11 others, and showed promise in an additional 10 events.

Apart from his historic win at Churchill Downs, Donerail also impressed with victories at races like the Canadian Sportsmen’s Handicap and Hamilton Cup. These wins highlighted his talent and potential even though he didn’t reach the same heights as he did during that memorable Kentucky Derby race.

As time passed, Donerail became known for more than just one standout performance; he was admired for his spirit and determination to compete against tough opponents race after race. His consistency on the track showcased resilience and courage—proof of what it takes to persevere through setbacks.

While not achieving huge success post-Derby, Doneraill left a lasting legacy beyond mere numbers or rankings. He embodied grit and tenacity—qualities that resonated with fans who valued a horse willing to give its best every time it raced. In many ways,Donerail represented more than just a champion; he symbolized hope,fearlessness,and unwavering dedication amidst uncertainties in racing.

In retirement,Donerall found peace grazing fields where once thunderous hooves now tread gently among lush pastures—a graceful transition from competitive racer to esteemed sire awaited him.Ashe embarked on this new role breeding future champions,his influence continued through offspring inheriting not only physical traits but also intangible qualities reminiscentof their illustrious predecessor—the indomitable spirit epitomizing noneotherthan theelegant yet resilient soul namedDoneraill

Key Attributes of Donerail: A Champion Stallion

Attribute Information
Name Donerail
Sire McGee
Grandsire White Knight
Dam Algie M
Damsire Hanover
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1910
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Thomas P. Hayes
Owner Thomas P. Hayes
Trainer Thomas P. Hayes
Record 62: 10-11-10
Earnings $15,156
Major wins Kentucky Derby (1913), Canadian Sportsmen’s Handicap (1913), Hamilton Cup (1914)

Retirement and Later Life

After retiring from racing in 1917, Donerail’s post-track life became a topic of intrigue among the racing community. He briefly worked as a breeding stallion with a stud fee of $50 before transitioning to sire cavalry horses under Thomas Hayes’ ownership. Later, John E. Madden took over his care.

But Donerail wasn’t done yet; on May 27, 1918, he made a surprising return to racing under Madden’s guidance. It was like seeing an old gunslinger come back for one last showdown. While this comeback stirred memories of his past glory, questions arose about his mysterious disappearance from public records after that final race.

Donerail’s later years were full of twists and turns akin to those found in thrilling novels. His legacy remains shrouded in uncertainty and fascination as he vanished into obscurity following his historic Kentucky Derby win at Churchill Downs.

As we reflect on the enigmatic horse who captivated crowds with awe-inspiring performances on the track, let us remember him not just for his Derby victory but also for the mystery surrounding his twilight years – keeping speculation alive till the very end like threads through a needle-eye.

Pedigree Analysis

Donerail’s family tree reveals that his father was McGee and his mother Algie M. Some of his famous relatives include White Knight and Hanover, who played important roles in shaping Donerail’s genetic makeup. This impressive lineage not only helped him win races but also gave him unique qualities that set him apart from other horses.

It’s amazing how a mix of family history, breeding decisions, and luck can influence the life of a racehorse like Donerail. The connections in his family tree show the legacy he carried forward—not just as a Kentucky Derby winner but as a carrier of special bloodlines woven into equine history.

After winning at Churchill Downs, Donerail continued to compete across North America with determination and spirit. While some horses might be forgotten after one big victory, this colt showed what makes champions stand out from the rest.

As retirement approached for this brave horse, it marked a new chapter—a transition from racing to breeding where he would leave a lasting impact on future generations. His success as a stallion mirrored his achievements on the track; each foal born carrying echoes of their ancestors’ remarkable journey towards fame in horse racing lore.

Peculiar Tales of Donerail in Racing Lore

  1. ### Fascinating Stories of Donerail in Horse Racing History

  2. **Surprising Champion**: Against all odds at 91-1, Donerail amazed the horse racing world by clinching victory at the 1913 Kentucky Derby, making it the biggest upset in the race's history.

  3. **Breaking Records**: In a remarkable display of speed and endurance, Donerail set a new track record with his winning time of 2:04 4/5 at the 1913 Kentucky Derby – holding on to this achievement for over ten years!

  4. **Dynamic Owner-Trainer Duo**: Thomas P. Hayes not only owned but also trained Donerail, who was sired by McGee – forming an intriguing family connection that added extra excitement to their triumph at the historic Derby.

  5. **Continued Success**: Post his stunning win at Churchill Downs, Donerail continued to shine in his racing career by claiming victory in multiple stakes races – solidifying his legacy as more than just a one-time derby winner.

  6. **Inspiring Legacy**: The underdog story of how Donerail conquered the 1913 Kentucky Derby stands as a powerful reminder of horse racing’s unpredictable nature; motivating future generations of longshots and dark horses to chase their own momentous victories on the racetrack.

Legacy and Historical Significance

Donerail’s stunning win at the 1913 Kentucky Derby is remembered as one of horse racing’s most thrilling upsets. Despite being a massive 91-1 underdog, he surged ahead of the favored horses with an incredible burst of speed, leaving fans and experts in awe. This victory showcased the unpredictable excitement of horse racing, where any competitor can surpass expectations and claim glory on the biggest stage.

After his Derby triumph, Donerail continued to display his talent at tracks across America. While he didn’t secure another major win like at the Derby, he consistently performed well in prestigious races, earning admiration for his determination and skill. Fans appreciated his grit and spirit as he faced top competition with unwavering grace.

As retirement approached, Donerail bid farewell to racing but not before making a lasting impact on all who witnessed his remarkable journey. His legacy went beyond mere numbers; it embodied resilience, courage, and the enduring spirit of an underdog who defied odds to become a legend in racing history. Trainers spoke fondly of him as a unique competitor whose heart matched his strides on track.

Transitioning from racing star to stud duty marked a new phase in Donerail’s extraordinary life story. As a sire, he passed down his exceptional genes to future generations eager to continue his legacy in horse racing circles. Breeders eagerly sought out descendants sired by this iconic champion hoping they too would carry forward Donerail’s indomitable spirit on their own paths towards success.

In later years during retirement at peaceful pastures fit for such an esteemed equine figure,

Doneraill remained an inspiration for both seasoned professionals and aspiring newcomers within

the equestrian world.

Whether through stories shared by veterans recalling moments of greatness or pedigrees tracing back

to him fulfilling lifelong dreams ,.

Doneraill kept influencing destinies long after crossing finish lines – proving that true champions leave a lasting impression far beyond their final race day stride”.


1. What were some of Donerail's notable achievements after his historic Kentucky Derby win?

Following his groundbreaking victory at the Kentucky Derby, Donerail continued to excel in numerous races such as the Latonia Derby and the Chicago Derby, establishing himself as a skilled racehorse long after his famous triumph.

2. How did Donerail's racing career evolve following his victory at Churchill Downs?

After making history by winning the Kentucky Derby, Donerail had a varied racing career with some impressive victories in races like the Travers Stakes and Latonia Derby. He ended his career with 5 wins out of 62 starts.

3. What impact did Donerail have on the breeding industry after retiring from racing?

After retiring from racing, Donerail made a big impact on the breeding industry by fathering many stakes winners. He left behind a strong legacy as a sire known for producing fast and enduring offspring.

4. Can you share insights into Donerail's later life and legacy in the world of horse racing?

Donerail, the surprising winner of the Kentucky Derby, continued to race after his big win before retiring to become a stud. He fathered many successful racehorses and made a lasting impact on horse racing.

5. Were there any significant challenges or obstacles that Donerail faced during his post-Derby career?

After making history with a Kentucky Derby win, Donerail encountered difficulties in staying at the top of his game and found it tough to achieve the same level of success in future races.

6. How did Donerail's performance in other races compare to his standout victory at the Kentucky Derby?

Although Donerail is best remembered for winning the Kentucky Derby, he faced challenges in maintaining his success after the race. He managed to secure a few impressive victories in smaller competitions, but was unable to match his earlier triumph at the Derby.