By Mint Julep

Kentucky Derby Winner Exterminator 1918

kentucky derby winner exterminator 1918

In 1918, at the Kentucky Derby, Exterminator, a chestnut Thoroughbred racehorse pulled off an incredible upset victory over his favored rivals. Delve into the inspiring story of this underdog champion who went from doubt to triumph and left a lasting mark on American horse racing history with his unforgettable win at Churchill Downs.

Early Life and Family Background

Exterminator, a talented Thoroughbred racehorse with a strong lineage from Kentucky, was born in 1915. His parents were F.D. “Dixie” Knight, and right from the beginning, he showed his natural talent for racing. With such impressive bloodlines, Exterminator seemed destined for greatness on the racetrack.

This remarkable horse wasn’t just your average runner; he carried within him not only the hopes of those who bred him but also of those who believed in his potential for achieving incredible things in the world of horse racing. During his early years under Knight’s care, Exterminator displayed an unwavering determination that would later capture hearts and minds across America’s racing scene.

In 1918 at the Kentucky Derby, this fierce competitor left a lasting mark as he raced down Churchill Downs’ legendary track with unmatched resolve. In a truly remarkable feat that defied all expectations and challenges thrown his way both on and off the course, Exterminator didn’t just secure another victory – he embodied resilience itself amidst adversity. This win wasn’t just about crossing the finish line first; it stood as a symbol of triumph over obstacles while charging towards glory when everyone else doubted you could succeed.

Introduction to Racing

When Exterminator first started racing, many people doubted him because of his unusual look and poor performances. But with the help of trainer Henry McDaniel and owner Willis Sharpe Kilmer, Exterminator began to prove himself on the racetrack.

Exterminator faced challenges as he climbed the ranks in horse racing. Despite being called “Old Bones,” he showed everyone that looks can be deceiving by demonstrating incredible strength and determination during races. His win at the 1918 Kentucky Derby marked him as an unexpected champion who overcame all obstacles.

His victory at Churchill Downs wasn’t just a success—it was a bold statement. While other horses were more popular among fans, it was this unassuming chestnut gelding who captured everyone’s attention with his sheer determination and unwavering spirit. He became a beacon of hope for all underdogs, proving that dedication and perseverance could conquer even the toughest trials.

Exterminator’s impact goes beyond one race or season; it is woven into American horse racing history itself. His story reminds us that greatness isn’t about where you come from or what others expect but is fueled by passion, hard work, and an unbreakable will to succeed against all odds—a true portrayal of sporting excellence through adversity.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. Their remarkable stories inspire and captivate audiences

  2. They leave a lasting legacy in the world of sports

  3. As role models for aspiring athletes, they serve

  4. Showcasing exceptional talent and dedication to their craft is their forte

  5. Creating memorable moments that transcend generations


  1. Feeling overwhelmed by the need to uphold a perfect image is common

  2. Facing potential injuries and health problems because of the sport's challenging requirements

  3. Juggling personal life with work commitments can be tough

  4. Dealing with criticism and scrutiny from the public and media can feel unsettling

  5. The risk of burnout or mental health struggles in stressful environments is real

Victory at the 1918 Kentucky Derby

Exterminator’s surprising victory in the 1918 Kentucky Derby caused quite a stir. This chestnut gelding, often underestimated for top-tier racing due to his slim build and lack of refinement, amazed everyone with his incredible determination on that fateful May day. Against all odds, he raced to triumph under Willie Knapp’s skilled guidance, leaving spectators in awe at Churchill Downs. Not only did this win catapult Exterminator from an overlooked contender to a household name, but it also highlighted the unpredictability and sheer excitement of horse racing.

Exterminator faced overwhelming challenges; however, this unlikely hero proved his critics wrong by outperforming favorites like War Cloud in what is now remembered as one of the most unforgettable upsets in Kentucky Derby history. His victory wasn’t just about being first across the finish line—it represented resilience, perseverance, and an unyielding spirit that resonated far beyond the racetrack that day. With each powerful hoofbeat reverberating through time, Exterminator secured his place in American horse racing folklore as a true legend embodying the essence of overcoming adversity.

Looking back on Exterminator’s win serves as proof that raw talent can overshadow pedigree or preconceived notions about appearances—a lesson still relevant today in both sports and life itself. His story inspires those facing daunting challenges or being underestimated based solely on external looks; it underscores how persistence paired with skill can lead to remarkable achievements against formidable odds. In many ways, Exterminator’s tale captures why we’re drawn to sports—the exhilaration of witnessing greatness unexpectedly emerge like a hidden treasure waiting patiently beneath layers of doubt until its brilliance shines forth for all to behold.

Post-derby Success and Legacy

Exterminator’s thrilling victory at the 1918 Kentucky Derby marked the start of an incredible journey that would cement his place as a legendary racing icon. After winning the historic Derby, this tough horse continued to capture the hearts of fans by showcasing unmatched determination and hard work on the track. His success post-Derby wasn’t just luck; it was proof of his unbreakable spirit and undeniable talent.

As Exterminator charged through races following his triumph at Churchill Downs, spectators were amazed by his consistency and drive. Every stride he took seemed to surpass expectations, proving time and time again that he was more than a one-time wonder. This chestnut gelding represented resilience and persistence like few others in racing history. Despite facing tough competitors race after race, Exterminator overcame challenges with poise and exceptional skill.

The legacy of Exterminator goes beyond mere numbers—it embodies strength personified on four hooves. Even long after retiring from competitive racing, this beloved horse remained a symbol of endurance for generations to come. His impact echoed throughout American horse racing as a source of inspiration for underdogs everywhere—a reminder that greatness isn’t determined by pedigree but is built through hard work, passion, and unwavering determination on the racetrack.

44th Kentucky Derby Top 8 Finishers Snapshot

Finished Post Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Time / behind
1st Exterminator Willie Knapp Henry McDaniel Willis Sharpe Kilmer 2:10.8
2nd Escoba Joe Notter John S. Ward Kenneth S. Alexander
3rd Viva America William Warrington W. N. Potts C. T. Worthington
4th War Cloud Johnny Loftus Walter B. Jennings A. Kingsley Macomber
5th Lucky B John McCabe Oswald A. Bianchi Oswald A. Bianchi
6th Jas. T. Clark John Morys Louis Tauber John W. Schorr
7th Sewell Combs Loyd L. Gentry Sr. John C. Gallaher Gallaher Bros.
8th American Eagle Earl Sande George Denney Thomas Clay McDowell

Breeder and Ownership Details

F.D. “Dixie” Knight, a native of Kentucky known for his keen eye for exceptional Thoroughbred bloodlines, took charge of Exterminator’s breeding rights. Knight had a talent for developing top-notch racers and played a crucial role in nurturing Exterminator from the very beginning, paving the way for success on the racetrack.

When Willis Sharpe Kilmer acquired Exterminator, it marked not only a significant change in ownership but also a pivotal moment in racing history. Kilmer’s leadership propelled Exterminator to iconic status among elite racing circles, where he would later secure his place as an equine legend.

Under Knight and subsequently Kilmer’s guidance, Exterminator transcended being just another racehorse; he became a symbol of resilience and unwavering determination on the turf. Their combined efforts turned this unlikely contender into one of horse racing’s most esteemed champions—a true testament to the dedication and passion that fuel the sport and continue to inspire generations.

Payouts and Prize Money

Exterminator, the winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby, wasn’t just any horse – he symbolized resilience and determination. His victory at Churchill Downs that day wasn’t just about winning; it showed how an underdog can rise against all odds to make history. This win was more than just cash; it proved that with unwavering spirit, you can overcome tough competition.

The $15,000 prize Exterminator received wasn’t only money; it recognized his exceptional talent and perseverance. The reward was proof of this amazing chestnut gelding’s ability to defy expectations and triumph in a top American horse race. Beyond riches, this victory marked a turning point in his career as he ascended to legendary status among Thoroughbred racers.

Looking back on Exterminator’s Churchill Downs triumph reveals more than wealth—it signifies hope for those facing overwhelming challenges. The purse’s importance extended beyond its value; it served as a reminder that true champions are defined not only by wins but also by their unyielding spirit during tough times. Each hoofbeat across the finish line left behind a legacy engraved into sporting history forevermore.

Legendary Tales Surrounding Kentucky Derby Winner Exterminator

  1. Legendary Stories About Kentucky Derby Winner Exterminator:

  2. The Iron Horse: They called Exterminator "The Iron Horse" because he was tough and never gave up on the racetrack. People underestimated him due to his looks and size, but he proved everyone wrong by winning races against all odds.

  3. Record-Breaking Win: Back in 1918, Exterminator shocked everyone by winning the Kentucky Derby as a 30-1 long shot. It was one of the most unexpected victories ever seen at the race, making him a legendary underdog in horse racing history.

  4. Long Career: Exterminator raced for an impressive eight years, competing in a total of 99 races during that time. Fans loved him for his consistency and endurance on the track, turning him into a symbol of perseverance in the sport.

  5. Unique Training Methods: Exterminator stood out for his unusual training routines like long-distance runs and swimming sessions in nearby rivers. His different approach to training played a big role in his success and longevity as a racehorse.

  6. Lasting Impact: Even today, fans are still inspired by Exterminator's story long after his retirement from racing. His tale shows how determination, grit, and heart can help overcome challenges and achieve greatness within the world of horse racing.

Jockey and Trainer Contributions

Willie Knapp, a skilled jockey known for his finesse and strategic prowess, formed a strong connection with Exterminator. His ability to understand the horse’s temperament and adapt his riding style accordingly was crucial in winning races. Knapp’s precise timing and deep knowledge of Exterminator’s strengths helped them navigate races effectively, leading to their impressive journey towards victory at the Kentucky Derby.

Henry McDaniel, an experienced trainer famous for his effective training techniques, played a vital role in shaping Exterminator into a champion racehorse. McDaniel’s patient approach and unwavering dedication to improving Exterminator’s skills were key factors in setting the horse on the path to success. With great attention to detail and a profound understanding of horses’ behavior, McDaniel nurtured Exterminator’s talent, laying the groundwork for their historic win at Churchill Downs.

The powerful partnership between Knapp and McDaniel demonstrated perfect teamwork on the racetrack—each complementing the other’s expertise seamlessly. Their collaborative efforts not only displayed outstanding cooperation but also highlighted their shared commitment to maximizing Exterminator’s performance potential. Through effective communication and mutual respect for each other’s roles, they developed a winning strategy that propelled Exterminator towards unparalleled success at one of horse racing’s most prestigious events—the Kentucky Derby.

By combining physical conditioning methods with psychological strategies tailored specifically for Exterminators’ unique traits as an individual racer; Knapp & McDaniel showcased unmatched synchronization between jockey and trainer—an essential aspect often overlooked by many within this competitive field. This harmonious relationship between rider and coach revealed what true partnership can achieve when united behind a common goal—to triumph together amidst thunderous cheers reverberating across history books forever etched with tales like theirs—a testament echoing within hallowed halls where champions are immortalized beyond mere flesh or bone; legends born from dust now set in stone!

Impact on Racing History

In the 1918 Kentucky Derby, Exterminator made history with a stunning win that still captivates audiences today. This legendary chestnut horse, affectionately known as “Old Bones” for his lean build and unassuming looks, defied all odds as he raced down the Churchill Downs track with determination and finesse. His victory wasn’t just about coming out on top; it represented hope for those considered underdogs in the racing world – individuals who persevere despite facing challenges.

Exterminator’s triumph was not only unexpected but also left an indelible mark on American horse racing history. Starting from humble beginnings as a wagon-pulling workhorse in Kentucky to becoming one of the sport’s most celebrated champions, Exterminator embodied resilience and sheer grit. His story continues to inspire fans today by showcasing how greatness can emerge from unlikely places, motivating dreamers and believers to never give up in their pursuit of success.

The journey of Exterminator serves as a guiding light for anyone encountering obstacles along their path – proving that with heart and determination, anything is possible. As he crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs amid thunderous cheers from spectators, he secured his place among racing legends forevermore. The reverberations of his win echo through time like rhythmic hoofbeats on sacred ground, reminding us that true champions are not always born but are often shaped by unwavering resolve and an unyielding spirit to conquer seemingly insurmountable challenges – much like Old Bones did back in 1918 at America’s premier horseracing event!


1. How did Exterminator earn the nickname "Old Bones" and what was the significance behind it?

The nickname "Old Bones" was given to Exterminator because of his slim body and impressive toughness, showing how determined he was and how well he could beat the odds. This made him a favorite underdog in the horse racing world.

2. What were the key challenges that Exterminator faced leading up to his historic victory at the 1918 Kentucky Derby?

The exterminator, lovingly nicknamed "Old Bones," defied expectations as a weak and unremarkable young horse to triumph at the 1918 Kentucky Derby. Despite facing doubts from many, he proved them all wrong and secured his spot in the annals of horse racing history.

3. How did Exterminator's unexpected triumph at the Kentucky Derby impact his legacy in American horse racing history?

The 1918 Kentucky Derby saw Exterminator achieve a surprising victory, establishing himself as an unlikely champion. This win highlighted his determination and secured his position in American horse racing history as one of the most cherished and legendary horses ever.

4. What made Exterminator stand out from other horses of his time, both in terms of physical attributes and racing style?

The Exterminator was known for his tough, humble look and impressive stamina. He never gave up and always pushed himself to do better in long races, which made him a legendary figure in American horse racing history.

5. Who were some of the notable competitors that Exterminator defeated on his path to winning the 1918 Kentucky Derby?

In the 1918 Kentucky Derby, Exterminator, an unexpected underdog, defeated highly regarded opponents like War Cloud, Ticket, and Under Fire. His incredible determination and victory cemented his legacy in American horse racing history.

6. How did Exterminator's victory at the Kentucky Derby inspire future generations of underdog stories in horse racing?

The incredible victory of Exterminator at the 1918 Kentucky Derby stands out as a memorable moment. Despite being an unassuming horse, he defied expectations and emerged as the winner. This achievement inspired many future underdog stories in horse racing, demonstrating that with perseverance, courage, and strength, any horse can achieve greatness on the racetrack.