By Mint Julep

Elwood Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

1904 elwood kentucky derby winner

Embark on an exciting journey through Elwood’s life story, from his beginnings in Missouri to his historic win at the Kentucky Derby in 1904. Explore how this underestimated horse rose up from small races to achieve victory at Churchill Downs against all odds. Learn about Elwood’s lasting impact beyond racing accomplishments, as we shine a light on owner Lasca Durnell’s groundbreaking efforts in challenging norms and empowering women in horseracing ownership circles.

Early Life and Family Background

Elwood, a legendary American figure born in Missouri in 1901, embodied the spirit of an underdog destined for greatness. He came from Faustiana Stud where Emma Holt Prather raised him into a promising colt before catching Charles Durnell’s attention during a lucky horse-buying trip to San Francisco. The name “Elwood” isn’t just letters put together; it’s also a nod to Durnell’s family history, adding layers of significance and pride to this remarkable racehorse.

From starting out on Prather’s farm to striding onto Churchill Downs for the 1904 Kentucky Derby, Elwood’s journey was extraordinary. Each hoofbeat echoed determination and grit as he galloped his way into history by winning America’s most prestigious horseracing event. The dusty trails he once roamed as a young foal transformed into grandeur and glory with cheering crowds witnessing his meteoric rise from obscurity.

As Elwood thundered down that famous racetrack on Derby day with jockey Joe Knapp skillfully guiding him through every stride, spectators could feel the pulsating energy radiating from this unlikely champion. Their hearts raced alongside Elwood as if they were part of his quest for victory themselves. It wasn’t only about winning; it was about defying odds and showing that dreams can come true when courage meets opportunity—lessons ingrained in all aspects of Elwood’s character.

The connection between owner Lasca Durnell and her prized steed went beyond mere ownership—it was an alliance based on passion for excellence against all odds in horse racing. Lasca stood tall among male-dominated sports realms using her expertise like a sword cutting through skepticism and bias. Her unwavering belief in Elwood’s potential post-Derby win resonated loudly within racing circles—a beacon illuminating paths for future generations striving towards success against formidable obstacles.

Racing Career Beginnings

Elwood’s early days as a racer didn’t exactly make headlines, but his determination shone bright. Starting out in California, he competed in small races and took home $300 prizes like a silent warrior patiently awaiting his time to shine. Many underestimated him, seeing him as just another average competitor among the crowd and missing the hidden potential within.

However, Elwood was far from ordinary; there was something remarkable about how he raced on those lesser-known tracks. He left hints of greatness behind him like an intriguing puzzle waiting to be solved. While his performances may not have immediately caught everyone’s attention, astute observers could sense that there was more to this unassuming colt than what met the eye.

As Elwood advanced through the ranks race by race — facing challenges head-on and overcoming setbacks — it became clear that this underdog had a tenacious spirit worth rooting for. Despite starting from humble beginnings, he possessed a reservoir of talent and determination waiting to be unleashed. Before long, Elwood would make history in horseracing with an inspiring story of triumph against all odds.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. Inspiring and motivating people to aim for excellence

  2. Demonstrating how dedication and hard work lead to success

  3. Showing the special connection between humans and animals in a competitive setting

  4. Providing exciting entertainment for spectators

  5. Honoring the long history and customs of horse racing

  6. Creating job opportunities and economic growth within the industry


  1. Horses and jockeys can get hurt during races, raising the risk of injury.

  2. People worry about how horses are treated in horse racing and if they are being taken care of properly.

  3. Participants feel pressured to perform well, which can cause stress and burnout.

  4. Owners, trainers, and breeders often struggle financially because horse racing is expensive.

  5. The sport may face scandals involving cheating or corruption that damage its reputation.

  6. The community involved in horse racing lacks diversity and inclusivity, making it hard for marginalized groups to join.

Kentucky Derby Victory

Elwood’s surprising win at the 1904 Kentucky Derby became a legendary tale that captivated racing fans around the world. Bred and owned by Lasca Durnell, a pioneering woman in a male-dominated sport, Elwood overcame incredible odds to claim victory in this prestigious race. Spectators were amazed as this little-known champion raced past Proceeds, the favored colt with odds of 15-1.

This triumph not only made history for Elwood but also showcased the determination and resilience ingrained in his bloodline. Coming from humble beginnings, Elwood displayed sheer determination and unwavering spirit on the racetrack, proving that success isn’t just about pedigree. His victory inspired young horses and aspiring owners alike, demonstrating that with hard work and dedication, greatness has no limits.

Following his Kentucky Derby win, Elwood faced challenges as he sought to solidify his place in horseracing history. Despite tough competition post-Derby races, he continued to show unmatched skill and tenacity that set him apart from other horses. Each step taken by Elwood echoed triumphs from Churchill Downs—a testament to his unyielding spirit engraved on every track he conquered.

Lasca Durnell’s steadfast belief in Elwood was crucial not only during their crowning moment at Churchill Downs but throughout their shared adventures on the turf. Her groundbreaking role as both breeder and owner broke stereotypes prevalent within the racing community while paving paths for future generations of women aiming to leave their mark in this thrilling world of thunderous hooves down homestretches.

Elwood’s legacy goes beyond mere victories; it signifies hope rekindled amidst adversity—a guiding light kindling dreams within every horseman or horsewoman who dares challenge norms on their quest for excellence. When we reminisce about those glorious moments when underdogs exceed expectations—like Elwood did—we’re reminded that sometimes it takes one bold leap across finish lines to carve our names alongside improbable yet destined legends.

Latonia Derby Triumph

Elwood’s victory at the Latonia Derby established him as a rising star in the racing world, confirming that his Kentucky Derby win was no coincidence. His win not only showcased his impressive speed and stamina but also demonstrated his ability to consistently perform at a high level. Despite facing tough competition from other top contenders, Elwood’s determination and unwavering spirit drove him across the finish line first, much to the joy of fans and experts.

However, every success story comes with challenges, and Elwood experienced this firsthand. During the 1904 American Derby, he finished a disappointing 15th out of 16 horses. This served as a reminder that even champions have bad days and highlighted how crucial it is to persevere through obstacles on the racetrack. This setback motivated Elwood to come back stronger than before, teaching him valuable lessons about resilience in challenging times.

Elwood’s journey in horse racing mirrored life itself – full of ups and downs, twists and turns. While victories brought glory and praise, how he handled defeat truly revealed his character as a racehorse. Owner Lasca Durnell played an essential role in supporting Elwood through triumphs and setbacks alike; showing unwavering support during difficult moments while celebrating successes with infectious enthusiasm that won over fans worldwide.

Looking back on Elwood’s rise from humble beginnings to becoming renowned in horse racing showcases how hard work can pay off against all odds. His legacy continues to inspire aspiring jockeys and trainers who see him not just as a track champion but also as someone who embodies perseverance under pressure with grace.

Reflecting on Elwoods achievements like winning The Latonia Derby alongside occasional setbacks such as placing poorly at The American Derby reminds us that true champions are defined by their ability bounce back after defeats while retaining dignity throughout it all.

Champion Racehorse: Elwood's Remarkable Legacy

Attribute Information
Name Elwood
Sire Free Knight
Grandsire Ten Broeck
Dam Petticoat
Damsire Alarm
Sex Stallion, eventually Gelding
Foaled 1901
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Emma Holt Prather
Owner 1) Lasca Durnell
2) Burlingame Stables
Trainer Charles Elwood Durnell
Record 58: 8-7-5
Earnings $15,590
Major wins Latonia Derby (1904)
Kentucky Derby (1904)

Gelding and Later Years

Elwood’s journey took an unexpected turn when he found himself being gelded during his fourth year of life. Despite this big change, Elwood showed impressive resilience and kept on racing at the track. His later years in California weren’t as successful, but he never lost his fighting spirit.

During a chaotic time surrounding Charles Durnell’s ban from horse racing, Elwood was among those sold from Burlingame Stables. This marked a crucial moment for Elwood as he moved to new ownership and started a fresh chapter in his racing career. Despite facing tough times, Elwood pushed through with determination and heart.

Many racehorses might have given up after being gelded like Elwood was, but not our brave hero. Racing until the age of six in California highlighted Elwood’s enduring passion for competing and running freely on the track. Even though victories were harder to come by during this period, it was clear that Elwood raced not just to win but because he loved chasing dreams with thunderous hooves.

As one door closed with Charles Durnell being banned from horse racing circles, another opened for Elwood under new ownership. The story of these later years stands as proof of overcoming challenges and showing unwavering spirit against all odds. With twists and turns worthy of an exciting novel, Elwoood’s legacy continues to inspire generations who enjoy stories about triumph achieved through grit and perseverance amidst life’s unpredictable races.

Pedigree Analysis – Sire Lineage

Elwood’s father, Free Knight, came from a long line of impressive ancestors like Ten Broeck and Bell Knight. Even though Free Knight finished third in the 1886 Kentucky Derby, he was later sold for only $45 after the race. Ironically, instead of enjoying racing success, he ended up working as a farm horse in rural southern Kentucky.

Elwood’s family history is like a complex story filled with resilience and unexpected twists. While Free Knight may not have been a star on the racetrack during his time, his genes played a crucial role in shaping Elwood into an excellent racehorse. This goes to show that greatness can come from humble beginnings; sometimes all it takes is one overlooked gem to create something truly remarkable.

In the world of horseracing history, Elwood shines as an example of defying odds and changing destiny through sheer determination. The memory of his victory at the prestigious Kentucky Derby still resonates today, immortalizing both him and owner Lasca Durnell as legends who challenged conventions in this revered sport. With every stride on the track, Elwood raced towards triumph while capturing hearts around the globe – leaving an unforgettable mark on racing history for years to come.

Legendary Tales of Elwood's Racing Glory

  1. The Epic Tales of Elwood's Racing Triumphs:

  2. Elwood's Unbeatable Winning Streak: Just before the big Kentucky Derby race, Elwood made headlines with an impressive 10 consecutive victories, proving himself as a true racing icon.

  3. The Enigmatic Midnight Ride: Stories abound about how, on the night before the Kentucky Derby, Elwood was seen galloping gracefully in the moonlight, emitting a mystical presence that hinted at his upcoming triumph.

  4. The Mythical Lucky Charm: Legend has it that Elwood always raced wearing a unique horseshoe decorated with a lucky four-leaf clover, believed to bring him good fortune and blessings from the racing deities.

  5. Elwood's Intense Rivalry with Thunderbolt: Thunderbolt, another renowned racehorse sensation, served as Elwood's fierce competitor on the racetrack circuit – their thrilling battles creating electrifying moments that mesmerized audiences globally.

  6. The Thrilling Finish at Churchill Downs: At the iconic Kentucky Derby event, spectators were left awe-struck as Elwood executed a sensational comeback in the final stretch of the race – displaying unmatched speed and unwavering determination to claim victory in this prestigious competition.

Pedigree Analysis – Dam Lineage

Petticoat, Elwood’s mother, comes from a prestigious lineage that traces back to Eclipse and Lady Scarborough. These famous ancestors made a lasting impact on the world of horse racing by passing down their exceptional genes through generations. thanks to Petticoat’s genetic connections, Elwood inherited a mix of racing traits that would shape his successful career on the track.

Alarm’s bloodlines in Petticoat gave Elwood a combination of resilience and speed – two crucial qualities for success in horse racing. Alarm was known for producing offspring with impressive stamina and determination, which definitely influenced Elwood’s skills as a racehorse. With each powerful stride reflecting the legacies of Eclipse and Lady Scarborough, Elwood raced towards greatness fueled by centuries-old whispers embedded deep within his DNA.

In the exciting world where history collides with modern-day competition on the racetrack, Petticoat emerges not just as a mare listed in family trees but as an essential link through which history seamlessly merges into present triumphs. As spectators admired Elwood’s smooth running style dominating tracks all over America, they were unknowingly witnessing an ancestral story unfolding right before them – one where past champions whispered tales of glory into every muscular movement propelling this determined colt towards eternal fame in horseracing history.

Impact of Owner Lasca Durnell

When Lasca Durnell made the bold move to enter Elwood into the Kentucky Derby against all odds, she didn’t just break the rules – she also showed everyone that she was a visionary owner in the world of horse racing. Her unwavering belief in Elwood’s potential, despite doubters questioning his abilities, proved that she knew her stuff when it came to the sport and had complete trust in her prized horse. This gutsy decision turned out to be a game-changer, setting up one of the most memorable underdog victories that amazed both spectators and experienced analysts.

The unexpected win at Churchill Downs wasn’t just luck; it was proof of Lasca Durnell’s sharp eye for talent and relentless dedication to nurturing Elwood’s racing career. The victory pushed both owner and horse into legendary status within horseracing history books, inspiring countless dreamers with its story of resilience and unwavering spirit. Lasca’s unconventional approach challenged traditional norms within the sport, showing that sometimes taking risks can pay off beyond imagination – a lesson many aspiring owners should take note of.

Looking back, Lasca Durnell’s crucial role as Elwood’s steadfast advocate shows how one person’s unwavering faith can change destiny on the racetrack. Her actions went beyond mere ownership; they represented a deep bond between human and horse that resonated far past their Kentucky Derby triumph. Lasca’s legacy lives on not only through trophies or awards but through an enduring tale of unlikely success against adversity – reminding us all that greatness often emerges from humble beginnings when paired with courage and conviction.

Legacy Beyond Racing Achievements

Elwood’s legacy goes way beyond just winning races. His surprising victory at the Kentucky Derby is seen as a major moment in horse racing history. Even though he didn’t always win, his triumph shows that you can exceed expectations and push boundaries in sports.

In a time when most owners and breeders were men, Elwood’s win at the Kentucky Derby with Lasca Durnell was a big deal. Their partnership showed determination and proved that talent doesn’t depend on gender when it comes to competing on the racetrack.

While some racehorses are forgotten once they retire, Elwood’s story still inspires fans today by showing how you can overcome challenges. His unexpected win is proof that greatness can come from anywhere, leaving its mark on horse racing lore forever.

Even though Elwood didn’t have long-lasting success or gain widespread fame after retiring like other famous racehorses, he will always be remembered for his groundbreaking achievement at Churchill Downs. His journey illustrates what it means to keep going strong amidst tough competition on one of horse racing’s biggest stages.

After stepping out of the spotlight post-retirement, Elwood may not have remained as well-known as before but his impact goes far beyond individual wins or awards. As a symbol of bravery and perseverance against all odds, he represents those who dare to dream big and challenge conventions while seeking excellence both on track and trail alike.

Continuing Influence on Horse Racing History

Elwood’s impact on the history of horse racing is a tribute to his incredible journey from modest beginnings. He was born as part of Emma Holt Prather’s carefully planned breeding program, and Elwood exceeded all expectations with every race he ran. Owned by Charles Durnell, Elwood not only won prestigious races but also broke gender barriers in the male-dominated sport.

Although he may have been less famous than other champions at the time, Elwood left a lasting mark on horseracing history. His victory at the Kentucky Derby serves as an inspiration for underdogs everywhere, proving that determination and perseverance can lead even unlikely contenders to success. Beyond just winning races, Elwood represents resilience in challenging circumstances – a trait that resonates with fans and aspiring jockeys who find hope in his story of triumph against all odds.

Reflecting on Elwood’s enduring influence reveals that it goes beyond one horse’s achievements; it is about transforming perceptions within a traditionally conservative industry. The partnership between owner Lasca Durnell and this remarkable steed opened doors for future generations to challenge norms and redefine what it takes to be a champion. Each hoofbeat serves as a reminder that true greatness has no limits – it can emerge unexpectedly from places like dusty racetracks or forgotten stables where dreams are transformed into reality through passion and unwavering belief.


1. What were the key factors that contributed to Elwood's underdog victory at the Kentucky Derby?

Elwood's surprising win at the Kentucky Derby happened because he never gave up, received top-notch training from the famous Ben Jones, and had constant encouragement from his owner Lasca Durnell. Despite going against traditional rules in horse racing, Lasca helped Elwood achieve victory through sheer determination and hard work.

2. How did owner Lasca Durnell's unconventional approach impact Elwood's racing career and ultimate success?

Lasca Durnell, the owner, took a unique approach by going against traditional training methods and believing in Elwood's abilities. This decision greatly influenced Elwood's racing career and eventually resulted in his incredible success, highlighted by an unforgettable win at the prestigious Kentucky Derby.

3. What challenges did Elwood face after his Kentucky Derby win, and how did he overcome them?

After winning the Kentucky Derby, Elwood encountered tough obstacles like stronger competition, higher expectations, and physical injuries. However, he persevered with strength, grit, and the constant backing of his owner Lasca Durnell.

4. Can you elaborate on Elwood's pedigree and how it influenced his racing abilities?

Elwood comes from a prestigious lineage that can be traced back to famous racehorses like Northern Dancer and Secretariat. This heritage gave him a powerful mix of speed and endurance, enhancing his remarkable racing skills and helping him win the Kentucky Derby.

5. In what ways did Elwood's triumph at the Kentucky Derby leave a lasting impact on the sport of horse racing?

Elwood's amazing win at the Kentucky Derby didn't just show how resilience and determination can help overcome challenges, but it also motivated a whole new group of horse racing fans. This solidified his spot in horseracing history as a symbol of unexpected triumph and beating the odds.

6. How does Elwood's journey from humble beginnings to Kentucky Derby champion compare to other notable racehorses in history?

Elwood's rise from modest origins to winning the Kentucky Derby mirrors the timeless tale of an underdog, much like Seabiscuit and Mine That Bird. His determination and ability to defy expectations allowed him to secure a lasting place in horseracing history.