By Mint Julep

Spokane 1889 Kentucky Derby Winner

spokane 1889 kentucky derby winner

Travel back in time to the 1889 Kentucky Derby and witness an exhilarating moment as Spokane, an unlikely underdog horse, defies all expectations to clinch victory. This race stands out for its extraordinary payouts, with Spokane hailing from a unique breeding background in Montana. Learn about how this triumph symbolizes overcoming tough competition and explore the buzz at Churchill Downs as spectators cheer on Spokane’s historic win. His unbeaten record time covering a mile and a half remains an impressive feat that still captivates racing fans today.

Spokane’s Victory at the 1889 Kentucky Derby

In a thrilling show of determination and grit, Spokane made its mark in racing history on that memorable day in May 1889. Despite the odds stacked against this dark horse from Montana, with Thomas Kiley skillfully guiding him and John Rodegap’s expert training shining through, Spokane surged ahead to claim victory at Churchill Downs. The crowd erupted as the underdog crossed the finish line, not only breaking records but also paving the way for future tales of unlikely triumphs on the racetrack.

Among a sea of excited spectators holding their $2 win wagers tightly, Spokane displayed unmatched speed and stamina over 1+1/2 miles. With each powerful stride echoing disbelief and awe, it was more than just a race; it was proof of unwavering spirit and an inspiration to those who dared dream beyond limits. Every muscle working together seamlessly and every heartbeat filled with anticipation marked Spokane’s place among legends that day.

The impact of Spokane’s historic win continues to resonate like waves across time itself. Not only did he secure victory at one of America’s most prestigious races in record time – 2:34.50 – but he also carved out his spot in racing history as a symbol of perseverance against all odds. From humble beginnings in Montana rose a champion whose legacy goes far beyond trophies or titles; it embodies what it means to defy expectations and emerge victorious when least expected – truly capturing that essence which draws us so deeply into sports!

Historic Crowd Attendance and Excitement

In 1889, the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs attracted a huge crowd, rivaling the Ten Broeck–Mollie McCarty match race of 1878. Around 16,000 excited fans gathered to watch Spokane and seven other horses challenge Two-Year-Old Champion Proctor Knott in an intense competition. The atmosphere buzzed with energy as spectators rooted for their favorites during the thrilling race.

Spokane, all the way from Montana, was not your typical Derby contender. Despite being considered a long shot with odds at an impressive 15-1, this underdog displayed remarkable determination that resonated with many onlookers present that day. His unconventional yet inspiring journey showcased resilience and perseverance in face of tough opponents.

As Spokane raced down the final stretch with unwavering speed and determination, he amazed seasoned bettors and captivated new observers alike with his exceptional talent. Crossing the finish line first not only secured him victory but also cemented his place in racing history forever.

The impact of Spokane’s unexpected triumph extended far beyond Churchill Downs on that memorable day—his win resulted in one of the highest payouts ever seen in Derby history up to then: $4,460 for every $5 bet placed on him—an incredible return considering his outsider status before the race began.

The Pros & Cons of Derby Day Delight


  1. Feel the buzz of excitement in the air

  2. Watch majestic horses showcase their beauty and power

  3. Rock classic derby day fashion and hats with style

  4. Get pumped as you watch a legendary race unfold before your eyes


  1. Packed event spaces might feel too chaotic

  2. Weather can be unpredictable at times

  3. Premium viewing spots come with a steep ticket cost

  4. Finding parking may be a challenge due to limited space

Montana’s Milestone Win with Spokane

In 1889, Spokane made a remarkable underdog victory at the Kentucky Derby that still captivates audiences today. This spirited horse, born in Montana, surprised everyone with his incredible win, cementing his place in racing history. His triumph coinciding with Montana gaining statehood that same year added an element of fate to the already monumental event.

Spokane’s win wasn’t just about winning a race; it symbolized perseverance against tough competition. In a sport where success is often determined by lineage, Spokane defied expectations by showcasing raw talent and unwavering determination. His unexpected victory became an inspiration for dreamers everywhere – proving that greatness can come from unexpected sources.

What set Spokane’s victory apart was its impact on betting circles at Churchill Downs. Spectators were amazed as the long-shot horse outran favorites to claim victory and deliver record-breaking payouts to those who had placed their bets on him. This unforgettable upset changed perceptions of risk-taking in horse racing far and wide.

Raised amidst rugged mountains and vast plains, Spokane embodied the spirit of untamed wilderness – powerful yet graceful, unpredictable yet undeniably majestic. His roots in Big Sky Country added layers of mystique to his story, portraying him not just as a racehorse but as a symbol of resilience and determination.

As time passed into history books, Spokane’s legacy remained strong like an evergreen forest standing tall against shifting winds. He wasn’t merely another winner at one Derby; he represented hope amidst uncertainty – embodying the pursuit of dreams against all odds until they become reality beyond anyone’s imagination.

Record Payouts and Prize Money Distribution

Spokane’s win not only made him a legend in racing history but also brought home a big prize of $4,880 for his owners. This was more than just about money; it showed the fighting spirit Spokane had from Montana to Churchill Downs.

The prize money clearly showed how much better Spokane did compared to Proctor Knott, who came in second and got only $300. Even the third-place horse received just $150, which looked tiny next to what Spokane earned that special Derby day.

People were talking about this unexpected winner from far away, but those who believed in him won big with odds of 6-1. The loud cheers when he crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs spoke of both victory and surprise – a thrilling moment for those who took a chance on him.

In one quick run towards success, Spokane not only became an unlikely champion but also created a story that would be remembered in racing forever. His incredible win wasn’t just about coming first; it was about breaking expectations and showing that greatness can come from humble beginnings like those seen across Montana’s vast lands.

1889 Kentucky Derby Top 8 Finishers Snapshot

Finished Post Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Time / behind
1st 5 Spokane Thomas Kiley John Rodegap Noah Armstrong 2:34.50
2nd 9 Proctor Knott Shelby Barnes Samuel W. Bryant George Scoogan/Samuel W. Bryant Nose
3rd 8 Once Again Isaac Murphy Milton Young 2
4th 10 Hindoocraft Armstrong Scoggan Bros. 1
5th 3 Cassius Fred Taral Beverwyck Stable 1
6th 11 Sportsman Isaac E. Lewis J. K. Megibben & Co. 1/2
7th 4 Outbound Hollis Fleetwood Stable
8th 13 Bootmaker Warwick Wilson & Young

Unique Breeding Background and Winning Legacy

One standout figure in the competition was Noah Armstrong, the breeder of Spokane. Coming from Montana, a state not typically known for producing Derby champions, Armstrong’s accomplishment is a remarkable moment in racing history. The unique story of Spokane’s origins adds to the mystique and fascination surrounding its impressive win at the 1889 Kentucky Derby.

Spokane’s victory at Churchill Downs was truly legendary. It set a new record time for that period, astonishing both spectators and experts with its speed and determination on the track. An unexpected champion from Montana, Spokane secured its place in history by captivating audiences and triumphing against all odds.

The legacy of Spokane goes beyond mere numbers or prizes—it represents hope, perseverance, and the enduring competitive spirit. Its influence on horse racing culture echoes through time as proof of what can be accomplished when determination meets opportunity. From modest beginnings to soaring success, Spokane remains ingrained in our memories as an icon of sporting excellence.

Through Spokane’s historic win at the 1889 Kentucky Derby—defying all expectations—the world witnessed more than just another racehorse; it saw a symbol of resilience overcoming challenges. Noah Armstrong’s unconventional breeding background paired with Spokane’s unwavering spirit crafted an unforgettable narrative that continues to motivate generations within and outside horse racing folklore circles.

Enduring Legacy of Spokane’s Triumph

In 1889, Spokane won the Kentucky Derby and made history by setting a record for the highest winning payout ever seen in the race. The victory was not only a triumph for Montana but also showcased Spokane as an underdog legend. His unexpected win against more favored competitors amazed spectators and sparked discussions beyond just horse racing circles.

Spokane, born in Deer Lodge County, Montana, had humble beginnings with no famous bloodlines or extravagant pedigrees linked to previous Derby champions. However, his raw talent and unwavering determination at Churchill Downs proved that true champions can emerge from unexpected places. His journey to glory serves as a testament to how perseverance and spirit can surpass background or lineage.

The legacy of Spokane’s win resonates throughout equestrian history as proof that greatness knows no boundaries. Even today, fans are still captivated by the story of this unassuming colt who captured hearts with his spirited gallop towards victory over a century ago. Every hoofbeat echoes resilience personified – an emblematic tale etched into sporting lore where David conquered Goliath amidst thundering applause and gasps of astonishment.

Spokane symbolizes hope realized against all odds—a beacon for dreamers chasing their own versions of glory across finish lines both literal and metaphorical alike. His name lingers like whispers carried on winds sweeping down from distant mountains—reminding us all that within each soul beats the heart of a champion waiting for its chance to shine brightly amid roaring crowds gathered ’round ambition-filled tracks lined with dreams yet untold.

Legendary tales of Spokane's Derby glory emerge

  1. In 1889, Spokane made history as the very first horse bred in the Pacific Northwest to win the prestigious Kentucky Derby, earning him fame and admiration across Washington state.

  2. Against all odds at 16-1, Spokane shocked everyone with his unexpected victory at the renowned race, securing a lasting place in racing lore.

  3. As the story goes, just before the Derby, Spokane's owner John B. Willis received a telegram advising him to withdraw due to poor track conditions. Ignoring this advice, Willis placed his trust in Spokane's talents and was rewarded with an incredible win.

  4. Following Spokane's triumph at the Kentucky Derby, interest in horse racing surged throughout the Pacific Northwest prompting more breeding farms and racetracks to be established in that region.

  5. Even today, Spokane's remarkable triumph at the 1889 Kentucky Derby continues to symbolize perseverance, determination and unwavering spirit of an underdog within horse racing circles worldwide.

Lasting Impression Through Photo Finish Era

Spokane’s surprising win at the Kentucky Derby in 1889 made a huge impact not just because of its remarkable victory as an underdog, but also because it happened during a time when photo finishes were not yet common. Back then, races like this relied on judges’ sharp eyes and quick decisions to determine the winners. The intense competition between Spokane and Proctor Knott reached its climax in a thrilling finish that demonstrated how every stride could change the outcome.

The heart-pounding race at Churchill Downs captured the true essence of fierce competition, where there was no room for mistakes or hesitation. Spectators held their breath as these magnificent horses raced down the track side by side, each jockey pushing their horse forward with determination and grit. It wasn’t just about speed; it was about strategy, stamina, and unyielding spirit—a test of wills unfolding amidst cheers and gasps from the crowd.

As Spokane surged ahead by just half a length over Proctor Knott in an era where victories were decided by inches rather than pixels on screens, history was written. This triumph wasn’t only about winning a title; it represented hope for all underestimated contenders everywhere—showcasing how one can defy odds stacked high like haystacks in Montana winters.

The legacy of Spokane’s memorable victory echoed through racing tales like reverberations off canyon walls—resonant and enduring. It proved that champions don’t always come from privileged backgrounds or favoritism but can arise from unexpected places with untapped talent waiting to shine on tracks where dreams run alongside fate.

Looking back at that significant day at Churchill Downs when Spokane carved his name into racing history—it stands as both a tribute to perseverance against overwhelming odds and a reminder that victories sometimes taste sweeter when they originate from humble beginnings akin to diamonds forged under immense pressure deep within Earth before emerging brilliantly above ground level.

Unbroken Record Set by Spokane

Spokane left an unforgettable mark in horse racing history by breaking the record for covering 1+1/2 miles in a remarkable time of 2:34.50, a feat that remains unrivaled to this day. Born in Montana, Spokane defied expectations and became known for his incredible speed and endurance.

His victory at the Kentucky Derby propelled him to fame nobody had anticipated. Despite starting from humble beginnings in the Treasure State, he raced with unmatched determination, displaying grit and resilience that resonated worldwide. His win inspired many aspiring racers while cementing his legacy among legends.

During a time when every second mattered on the track, Spokane stood out as a symbol of excellence, setting standards that seemed impossible to beat—a true testament to his exceptional breeding and unwavering spirit. The boldness shown by this chestnut colt not only captured audiences but also motivated future generations, highlighting the timeless appeal of horse racing as both a sport and spectacle.

As Spokane thundered down Churchill Downs towards victory at the iconic Kentucky Derby, he represented more than just talent; he embodied resilience against all odds. His extraordinary performance was not just about finishing first but evolved into legend—a captivating story weaved with threads of courage, skill, and destiny coming together on one historic May day.

Even today when fans discuss legendary racehorses who made lasting impressions on tracks across America’s heartland or beyond its borders—Spokane’s name echoes like a call summoning memories of glory amidst cheering crowds under sunlight eagerly awaiting another chapter written by hooves galloping rhythmically towards immortality


1. How did Spokane, a horse from Montana, manage to win the prestigious Kentucky Derby in 1889?

Spokane, a determined underdog hailing from the challenging landscape of Montana, beat all expectations and won the 1889 Kentucky Derby with sheer willpower. Showing incredible speed and endurance that amazed the racing community.

2. What were the odds stacked against Spokane before his remarkable victory at the 1889 Kentucky Derby?

Spokane defied the challenging 15-1 odds and became a surprising underdog from the Montana frontier, securing an unforgettable victory at the 1889 Kentucky Derby.

3. How did Spokane's triumph at the 1889 Kentucky Derby impact the world of horse racing and breeding?

Spokane's win at the 1889 Kentucky Derby changed horse racing and breeding by proving that unexpected underdogs could succeed, inspiring future champions to come from unconventional places.

4. What made Spokane's victory at the 1889 Kentucky Derby such a significant underdog story in racing history?

Spokane's surprising win at the 1889 Kentucky Derby is a legendary tale in horse racing history. Coming from a modest background in Montana, Spokane defied the odds with his incredible victory at 16-1, beating out more experienced competitors from the East. This momentous event captures the timeless theme of determination and triumphing against all expectations in the thrilling world of horse racing.

5. Can you elaborate on the record payouts and lasting legacy associated with Spokane's win at the 1889 Kentucky Derby?

Spokane made history by winning the 1889 Kentucky Derby as the first and only horse from Montana to do so. The victory not only led to huge payouts for bettors but also left a lasting impact on racing history. Spokane became a symbol of overcoming odds and never giving up, showcasing the power of perseverance and triumphing against all expectations.

6. How did Spokane's unique background and origins contribute to his historic win at the 1889 Kentucky Derby?

Spokane, a horse with humble beginnings in Montana, defied the odds as an underdog from the West at the 1889 Kentucky Derby. His unexpected triumph not only brought excitement but also highlighted the resilience and hidden talents of horses bred outside the usual racing hotspots. This victory was a testament to Spokane's unique origins and his ability to shine on a prestigious stage like the Kentucky Derby.