By Mint Julep


Spokane Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

spokane 1889 kentucky derby winner

Explore the fascinating story of Spokane’s early life, tracing his lineage back to renowned Thoroughbreds like Leamington and Intruder. Learn about the challenges and triumphs he faced during his racing career before and after winning the historic Kentucky Derby. Discover how his legacy continues to shape American horse racing history. Unravel the mysteries surrounding Spokane’s retirement and his influence on Montana’s growing horse racing scene, highlighting his incredible journey from humble beginnings to success after the Derby win.

Early Life and Family Background

Born in 1886, Spokane was a magnificent chestnut Thoroughbred stallion who became the pride of Montana’s horse breeding scene. His impressive lineage can be traced back to his sire, Hyder Ali, and further down to the famous Leamington. The mare Interpose by Intruder added even more value to Spokane’s bloodlines, setting him up for success on racetracks across America.

Noah Armstrong bred Spokane into the world where he immediately displayed grace and power that hinted at his future racing skills. Growing up in Montana’s beautiful landscapes, Spokane not only breathed fresh air but also absorbed a sense of determination that would define his career later on. With carefully selected genetics from generations past running through him, Spokane carried forward a legacy rooted in excellence in equestrian sports.

During those early days when hooves pounded dusty tracks and dreams were just starting to form in young Spokane’s eyes; destiny softly whispered promises of greatness waiting ahead. Each gallop across vast pastures seemed to bring forth tales from ancestors long gone who once raced down historic courses—a rich legacy now passed on to this spirited colt destined to create his own mark in horse racing history.

Training and Racing Beginnings

At the age of two, Spokane was sent to Tennessee for training with John Rodegap. His career started off with a mix of successes like winning races such as the Hyde Park Stakes and disappointments with unplaced finishes. When Armstrong took over his training at three years old, Spokane began to show potential on the track.

Spokane’s early racing days were filled with both victories and challenges. Despite facing initial struggles, he gradually started revealing his talent under new guidance. With each race, it became clear that Spokane was sharpening his skills and moving closer towards achieving something significant.

As time went by, viewers couldn’t help but notice that there was something extraordinary about this horse named Spokane. His journey from uncertain beginnings in Tennessee to becoming a serious competitor not only showed progress but also resilience—a crucial trait in every champion’s narrative.

The Pros & Cons of Spokane’s Racing Glory


  1. Spokane gained national recognition for its historic Kentucky Derby wins.
  2. The trainers and jockeys of Spokane showcased their talent and dedication through their racing triumphs.
  3. Winning races brought more tourists and economic growth to Spokane.
  4. Community pride soared as residents celebrated the victories together.
  5. The legacy of Spokane’s racing success motivates young horse enthusiasts today.
  6. Spokane’s triumphs established it as a key player in the world of horse racing.


  1. Spokane’s subsequent racehorses faced high levels of competition and pressure to replicate past successes.
  2. Some critics argue that focusing excessively on racing glory may overshadow other important aspects of Spokane’s history and culture.
  3. Keeping up the legacy of racing glory can be expensive in terms of resources and infrastructure maintenance.
  4. Pursuing continued success could lead to negative impacts on horse welfare, such as overbreeding or using performance-enhancing practices.
  5. If future performances fail to meet the high standards set by past achievements, public perception may change.
  6. The intense focus on Spokane’s racing history could result in increased scrutiny or controversy within the industry.

Kentucky Derby Victory

In 1889, Spokane achieved a remarkable victory at the Kentucky Derby that not only propelled him to fame but also brought glory to Montana. The fact that he hailed from the untamed lands of Montana, where he was both bred and trained, added an exciting element of underdog appeal to his triumph. Picture this: a horse from the Wild West outshining competitors from more traditional breeding grounds! It was akin to witnessing David defeating Goliath while sporting cowboy boots.

The race wasn’t just about speed; it represented a clash between different styles and backgrounds. Spokane’s gritty determination went head-to-head with Proctor Knott’s refined pedigree – a showdown like a wild stallion challenging a well-groomed aristocrat in a duel on dusty tracks. When Spokane thundered past the finish line first, it symbolized not just one horse winning but resilience, spirit, and defying odds stacked higher than hay bales in winter.

This victory didn’t merely engrave Spokane’s name in history books; it painted Montana in vibrant colors on racing maps all over America. Suddenly, conversations weren’t limited to bluegrass fields when discussing elite races; instead, people were sharing stories of Big Sky Country where hooves pounded fiercely enough to shake mountains loose. The win at the Kentucky Derby placed Montana firmly on the racing map with an exclamation mark so bold that even ink couldn’t contain its significance.

Post-derby Success

After winning the Kentucky Derby, Spokane continued to impress on the track with his powerful performance. He dominated races like the Clark Stakes, leaving Proctor Knott trailing in his wake once again. Spectators were mesmerized as Spokane’s determination and speed led him to victory time after time. Each win further solidified his reputation as a true champion of horse racing.

With each race, Spokane’s legacy grew stronger. The American Derby was another triumph for this exceptional horse, where he competed against some of the best horses in the country. Fans admired his grace and strength as he surged ahead with an unwavering spirit that seemed almost magical. It was evident that Spokane wasn’t just a flash in the pan; he was here to stay, creating a lasting impact on the history of horse racing.

Spokane’s success post-Derby wasn’t just about winning races—it showcased unmatched talent and drive that distinguished him from other horses of his time. In every stride, there unfolded a tale of perseverance and triumph witnessed by eager spectators at racetracks near and far. As Spokane raced towards one victory after another, it became increasingly clear that this remarkable steed had cemented himself not only in racing history but also captured hearts with stories of equine greatness.

Pedigree and Racing Achievements of Spokane

Attribute Value
Name Spokane
Sire Hyder Ali
Grandsire Leamington
Dam Interpose
Damsire Intruder
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1886
Country United States
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Noah Armstrong
Owner Noah Armstrong
Trainer John Rodegap
Record 17: 5-4-2
Earnings $26,805.00
Major wins
American Derby (1889)
Clark Handicap (1889)
Kentucky Derby (1889)

Retirement From Racing

After a successful career on the racetrack, Spokane faced difficulties when he retired and tried to become a breeding horse due to some health issues. Despite leaving competitive racing early, Spokane’s amazing performances during his best years left a lasting impact.

Spokane’s exit from racing was a big moment in his story. Transitioning to being a breeding stallion wasn’t easy because of problems with having babies at first. People who had seen him excel on the track were worried about what would happen next for him.

Even after retiring from racing, people couldn’t stop talking about why such an incredible racehorse stopped so soon. The mystery around his early retirement made many wonder what could have been if things went differently for him. But everyone still admired Spokane’s talent that had impressed fans all over the country.

Despite concerns about his future as a dad to baby horses, fans looked back fondly on Spokane’s win at the Kentucky Derby and other victories that made him famous in horse racing history. Even though he didn’t have as many babies as some other horses because of fertility issues, people will always remember this legendary horse for his determination and courage every time he raced.

Legacy and Historical Significance

Spokane made history by winning the Kentucky Derby, a victory that went far beyond the racetrack and secured his place in horse racing legend. Coming from an unexpected breeding region, Spokane shattered expectations and won over the hearts of many fans. The Doncaster Round Barn stands as a proud symbol of this incredible triumph, honoring his origins and preserving his impact on racing history.

His win transformed Montana’s horse racing scene, thrusting it into the national spotlight. Spokane became a symbol of determination and talent that transcended geographical boundaries. His success resonated through time, motivating future breeders and trainers across America to dream big and strive for excellence.

Spokane’s legacy is proof of how unpredictable horse racing can be—a sport where underdogs can rise above tradition to achieve greatness. His story embodies perseverance and passion, qualities shared by champions in any field. The Doncaster Round Barn isn’t just a building; it represents hope, reminding us all that extraordinary achievements can emerge unexpectedly when determination meets opportunity.

Uncover Spokane’s Enigmatic Tales of Yesteryears

  1. Sure thing! Here are 5 captivating facts and myths about Spokane that will pique the interest of a 40-year-old who finished their Sophomore Year at age 19-20:
  2. Uncover the Mystery of the “Spokane Gnomes”: Rumor has it that mischievous gnomes once roamed the forests surrounding Spokane, pulling pranks on unsuspecting travelers. Some locals claim they’ve caught glimpses of these elusive creatures, adding an air of intrigue to the region’s folklore.
  3. Experience the Haunting History of The Davenport Hotel: Built in 1914, downtown Spokane’s historic Davenport Hotel is said to be haunted by a jilted bride who tragically ended her own life on her wedding day. Guests have reported eerie incidents like flickering lights and unexplained footsteps, giving a spooky twist to Spokane’s past.
  4. Hunt for The Lost Treasure Along Hangman Creek: Local legends speak of outlaws burying stolen gold along Hangman Creek during the Wild West era. Even today, treasure hunters search for clues to find this hidden fortune, sparking curiosity and speculation within the community.
  5. Explore Riverside State Park’s Enigmatic Past: Located just outside Spokane, Riverside State Park is rumored to be teeming with paranormal activity. Visitors have claimed sightings of ghostly figures and mysterious sounds among its trees – fueling beliefs that restless spirits from yesteryears haunt this park.
  6. Delve into Spokane’s Underworld Tunnels: Beneath downtown streets lie secretive underground tunnels believed to have been used by bootleggers and smugglers during Prohibition times. These hidden passageways add an extra layer of mystery to city history – beckoning exploration and stirring up curiosity about their concealed secrets.

Pedigree and Bloodlines

Spokane had some impressive ancestors like Leamington and Intruder in his family tree, giving him a strong connection to famous racehorses. His dad, Hyder Ali, passed down traits that helped Spokane become a skilled racer on the track.

This mix of bloodlines not only made him super fast but also gave him the endurance to outlast other horses during races. Thanks to his lineage, Spokane could keep up his stamina over long distances, making him a tough competitor in every race he entered.

Spokane’s genes weren’t just names on paper; they were like a beautiful quilt woven with threads of excellence and determination from past generations. Every step he took reflected the greatness of champions who came before him, pushing him towards success in each race.

As people watched Spokane dash down the final stretch, little did they know they were witnessing history unfold—a blend of smart breeding and natural talent coming together in one amazing horse who broke records and left an unforgettable mark on horse racing history.

Impact on Montana Horse Racing

Spokane’s win at races like the Kentucky Derby made Montana stand out in the horse racing world, showing off Armstrong’s talent as a breeder and owner. The colt’s success wasn’t just local news – it put Montana Territory on the map for thoroughbred racing.

Spokane’s big victory had a huge impact, making him a symbol of success not only for his owners but also for the whole region. His amazing performances all over the country brought respect to Montana in horse racing circles, catching people’s attention near and far.

As word spread about Spokane’s incredible wins through conversations and newspapers, excitement grew around this impressive stallion from Big Sky Country. Fans came running to see him in action, eager to witness this legendary figure who represented hard work and excellence.

With each powerful stride towards triumph, Spokane didn’t just leave tracks behind – he became part of history by shining a light on how Montana could shape the future of horse racing. This legacy continues to inspire people both within and outside state lines even today!

Enduring Mystery Surrounding Retirement

Spokane’s retirement signaled the start of a mysterious cloud surrounding his once brilliant career. People speculated wildly – some said he went back to Montana, while others whispered about tragic events befalling him. Despite these stories circulating around horse racing circles, details about Spokane’s later years remained as elusive as a ghostly horse galloping in the dark.

The intrigue deepened when rumors hinted at severe injuries or sudden illnesses affecting Spokane after he retired. These tales painted a gloomy picture of a legendary horse facing unexpected challenges away from the fame and admiration that once surrounded him. The uncertainty about his well-being added layers of mystery to an already puzzling story carved into horse racing history.

Legend suggests that Spokane might have quietly returned to life in Montana after retiring from his illustrious racing days – a move shrouded in secrecy and surrounded by whispers echoing like canyon walls. This possibility only fueled more curiosity about what happened to this majestic creature who had captured hearts both on and off the track during his prime.

Despite efforts to uncover the truth behind Spokane’s final chapter, historians keep delving into archives like treasure hunters searching for hidden gems among scattered clues and bits of historical records left behind by time moving steadily forward. Each discovery sheds light on the shadowy path towards revealing what truly occurred during those mysterious later years following Derby victory for one of America’s most beloved racehorses.

As we navigate through murky waters filled with half-truths and gossip regarding where Spokane went after retiring, one thing remains certain: His legacy continues as an enigma wrapped in silk ribbons spun by time itself—each whisper adding another layer to an intriguing narrative waiting patiently for curious minds eager to unravel its enduring mysteries.


1. What were the key factors that contributed to Spokane’s unexpected victory at the Kentucky Derby?

Experts credit Spokane’s surprising win at the Kentucky Derby to his impressive lineage, strong determination, and the expert training provided by his coach, John Rodegap. Rodegap diligently readied him for the challenging race, ultimately leading to their victory.

2. How did Spokane’s triumph at the Kentucky Derby impact the landscape of horse racing in Montana?

When Spokane won the historic Kentucky Derby in 1889, it brought a lot of attention to Montana’s horse racing world. People all across the country started noticing and appreciating the breeding and racing skills that were coming out of that region.

3. What is known about Spokane’s pedigree and how did it influence his racing career?

Spokane, a horse with roots tracing back to the famous racehorse Lexington, displayed remarkable speed and endurance during races. These qualities were passed down from his impressive ancestry and helped him win the prestigious 1889 Kentucky Derby.

4. What are some of the enduring mysteries surrounding Spokane’s retirement from racing after his Kentucky Derby success?

After winning the Kentucky Derby, Spokane retired from racing, which left experts and fans wondering why the horse suddenly vanished from the sport. This unexpected exit has continued to puzzle historians and enthusiasts alike.

5. How did Spokane’s early life and upbringing shape his journey to becoming a celebrated racehorse?

Spokane learned resilience and strength during his early days working as a plow horse in Montana. These qualities helped him rise above his modest beginnings and achieve victory as the very first Pacific Northwest-bred winner of the Kentucky Derby.

6. In what ways did Spokane’s legacy continue to resonate in the world of horse racing long after his retirement?

Even after Spokane retired, his impact on horse racing lingered due to his famous win at the Kentucky Derby. This victory cemented his status as a legendary figure in the sport and served as inspiration for upcoming generations of racehorses and fans.