By Mint Julep


Zev Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

zev 1923 kentucky derby winner

Key Takeaways

  • Zev, a famous American Thoroughbred racehorse, was born in 1920 to well-known parents and owned by Rancocas Stable.
  • He started his racing career with great success as a U.S. Champion 2-Year-Old Colt before winning the Triple Crown at the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1923.
  • Zev’s win over Papyrus in an international match race cemented his legacy in horse racing history, showing off his skills on both national and global levels.

Early Life and Family Background

Zev was born in the heart of America’s horse racing country with a lineage destined for greatness. His ancestors were strong and noble, passing down a legacy of speed and endurance that would shape his future on the track.

From an early age, Zev loved to play and run through the pastures, refining his natural athletic abilities. Even as a young foal, he exuded confidence, hinting at something extraordinary beyond just playing under the sun.

As he grew from a gangly colt into a sleek racehorse full of power, it became clear that Zev had a talent for running fast. His graceful strides promised victories yet to come and whispered tales of triumph waiting to be written alongside legends.

The bond between Zev and his caretakers was deep; they saw more than just a horse but also their companion whose destiny intertwined with theirs in ways only those immersed in racing could understand. Each victory reinforced their belief in his ability to overcome any challenge thrown his way.

With each thunderous beat beneath him on dirt tracks surrounded by roaring crowds’ watchful eyes, Zev carved out his place among racing greats—a bright beacon amidst fierce competition—an embodiment of equine grace mixed with unyielding determination leading him towards immortality on turf soaked with sweat and dreams fulfilled.

Racing Career Beginnings

Zev started his racing career under the guidance of Sam Hildreth when he was just a lively two-year-old in 1922. In that year, he won five out of twelve races, quickly gaining attention and respect in the horse racing world. This early success paved the way for an outstanding career characterized by determination and excellence.

Under his trainer’s mentorship, Zev dominated competitions and established himself as the U.S. Champion 2-Year-Old Colt in 1922. This title wasn’t just a trophy; it showcased Zev’s natural talent and unwavering spirit on the racetrack. Even at a young age, he displayed maturity and skill beyond expectations – hinting at even greater accomplishments to come.

Zev’s exceptional performance at only two years old hinted at a promising future in Thoroughbred racing. Each race brought him closer to greatness, earning admiration from fans and rivals alike. His early victories laid the foundation for future successes while inspiring those who witnessed his rapid ascent.

Thanks to Sam Hildreth’s expert coaching, Zev blossomed into more than just any other racehorse – he became a symbol of resilience and unyielding determination in equine sports history. Every triumph added another chapter to his legacy, illustrating perseverance combined with innate talent amidst fierce competition all over America.

As spectators marveled at Zev’s remarkable skills during these crucial races, they pondered about what this extraordinary colt could achieve with time – foreshadowing brilliant victories waiting for him past each finish line crossed with unmatched grace and determination unlike many others before or since.

The Pros & Cons of Zev’s Racing Journey


  1. Zev showed off his amazing racing skills by winning the 1923 Kentucky Derby in a spectacular fashion.
  2. By dominating the Jockey Club Gold Cup, he proved himself as a legendary racehorse.
  3. Zev’s success around the world helped make American horse racing famous on an international level.
  4. Fans and enthusiasts worldwide are inspired by how Zev went from starting small to becoming a celebrated champion.


  1. Zev had to compete against other top racehorses of his time, despite all the amazing things he achieved.
  2. Throughout his career, injuries and setbacks presented challenges for Zev and his team to overcome.
  3. The pressure of keeping up a winning streak might have affected Zev’s physical and mental health.
  4. Being a prominent figure in the racing world meant that there was intense scrutiny and high expectations placed on Zev, which could be quite overwhelming.

Triple Crown Triumphs

In 1923, Zev made a grand entrance into the world of horse racing by displaying an unwavering determination that captured everyone’s attention. With jockey Earl Sande guiding him skillfully, this American-bred Thoroughbred achieved remarkable victories in prestigious Grade I stakes races like the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes at just three years old. His wins weren’t just ordinary; they were powerful displays of dominance that resonated throughout the sport.

Zev’s outstanding performances in these major events propelled him to Co-U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Colt status—a clear testament to his unmatched skills on the track. The aura surrounding Zev went beyond mere competition; it embodied qualities such as courage, speed, and relentless commitment to success. Every step he took towards greatness left spectators spellbound by his sheer brilliance.

Being crowned American Horse of the Year in 1923 elevated Zev from being just a racehorse to becoming a symbolic figure representing triumph against all odds. His Triple Crown victories painted a vivid picture of excellence etched with every hoofbeat on those revered racetracks. Fans eagerly sought glimpses of this equine hero whose name would forever be associated with glory and prestige within racing communities.

The thunderous charge down Churchill Downs’ legendary homestretch during the Kentucky Derby marked one defining moment for Zev—where dreams merged seamlessly with reality under clear blue skies. Each win added another layer to an already colorful canvas portraying one horse’s extraordinary journey from obscurity to immortality amidst cheering crowds and fluttering silks soaring high.

Beyond securing victories on tracks, Zev left behind a legacy that extended far beyond his time—an everlasting reminder that champions are not solely defined by trophies or accolades but also by their ability to inspire generations through timeless tales as enduring as nature itself. Looking back, his Triple Crown triumphs were more than just wins—they stood as testimonies to unyielding spirit and boundless potential waiting patiently beneath each starting gate for those daring enough to pursue their destiny with ambition-fueled hooves poised for greatness.

International Match Race Success

Zev’s incredible victory over Papyrus in the International Stakes at Belmont Park was a game-changer for horse racing. It showcased the Kentucky Derby winner’s amazing talent and determination. This win not only solidified Zev as one of the best but also highlighted how American Thoroughbreds dominate on the world stage.

The showdown between Zev and Papyrus captured global attention, showcasing their unique abilities and fierce competitiveness. The race wasn’t just about two horses fighting for first place; it represented a clash of nations, with both contenders risking pride and legacy. In this intense face-off, Zev proved himself by outperforming the strong English champion, wowing spectators with his speed and endurance.

Zev’s triumph in the International Stakes made him a legend in horse racing circles, earning recognition for his historic feat. It demonstrated his versatility as an athlete capable of excelling not only nationally but also internationally against top competition like Papyrus.

The impact of Zev’s victory over Papyrus reverberated throughout sports discussions worldwide, sparking excitement about future match-ups between elite horses from different regions. This event went beyond mere competition; it symbolized unity through sport while celebrating excellence regardless of nationality or pedigree.

Looking back on Zev’s achievement in the International Stakes serves as proof of his lasting influence—a mark he made on horse racing that still resonates today among fans who admire exceptional equine performances. This iconic duel remains part of history as a shining example where courage, skill, and determination conquered all obstacles—an unforgettable moment in Zev’s illustrious career that continues to inspire generations after generations.

Legendary Racing Career Highlights

Attribute Information
Name Zev
Sire The Finn
Grandsire Ogden
Dam Miss Kearney
Damsire Planudes
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1920
Country United States
Colour Brown
Breeder John E. Madden
Owner Rancocas Stable Silks: White, Green Collar and Cuffs, White Cap.
Trainer Sam Hildreth & David J. Leary
Record 43: 23-8-5
Earnings $313,639
Major wins Hopeful Stakes (1922)
Grand Union Hotel Stakes (1922)
Paumonok Handicap (1923)
Withers Stakes (1923)
Lawrence Realization Stakes (1923)
Queens County Handicap (1923)
Match race – defeated Epsom Derby champ, Papyrus (1923)
American Classic Race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1923)
Belmont Stakes (1923)
Awards U.S. Champion 2-Year-Old Colt (1922)
Co-U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Colt (1923)
American Horse of the Year (1923)
Honours United States Racing Hall of Fame (1983)
#56 – Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century

Retirement and Stud Career

When Zev retired in 1924, it marked the end of his impressive racing career and the start of a new chapter as a stallion. Despite his amazing performance on the track, Zev encountered some challenges when transitioning to stud duties. Although he fathered two minor stakes winners named Zevson and Zida, he didn’t achieve the same level of success in breeding as he did in racing.

Stallions often feel pressure to produce offspring that inherit their winning genes. For Zev, this change led to mixed results. While he may not have replicated his racing success in breeding, his legacy lived on through descendants who shared traits similar to what made him exceptional.

The switch from racing to stud responsibilities can be compared to an athlete retiring after many championship victories—moving from being under spotlights at center stage to influencing behind-the-scenes activities. It’s about passing down talents and spirit for future generations so that one’s impact lasts long after stepping out of the limelight.

In horse racing history books, champions are celebrated not only for their own successes but also for how they influence the sport’s future through their progeny. Though Zev might not have left as big a mark as other great sires did during retirement years, there is no denying both his significance on and off the track—a testament to enduring greatness even beyond retirement age.

Hall of Fame Induction

Zev, a standout in the racing world, received a posthumous honor in 1983 when he was added to the United States Racing Hall of Fame. The Blood-Horse magazine also recognized his talent by ranking him #56 among the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century.

Zev’s legacy lives on not just through his impressive race performances but also due to his lasting impact on American horse racing history. His entry into the prestigious US Racing Hall of Fame cements his position as one of the greatest Thoroughbreds ever seen on tracks.

Earning a spot in a hall that honors excellence is no easy task; it speaks volumes about Zev’s exceptional skills and unwavering determination as a racehorse. Being acknowledged alongside other legendary horses shows how Zev has influenced an entire generation of horse enthusiasts.

Zev’s inclusion with such esteemed company solidifies his status not only as a champion but elevates him to iconic status within horse racing history, ensuring that future generations will continue to be amazed by his remarkable achievements and relentless pursuit of greatness with every stride he took.

Legendary Tales of Zev’s Racing Triumphs

  1. Exciting Stories of Zev’s Epic Racing Victories:
  2. In 1923, the unstoppable Zev, also known as “The Iron Horse,” blazed past his competitors to claim victory at the renowned Kentucky Derby.
  3. Before clinching glory at the Kentucky Derby, Zev embarked on a spectacular journey as a 2-year-old sensation, triumphing in all nine of his races and earning the moniker “The Mighty Atom” due to his compact yet mighty frame.
  4. Beyond his exceptional racing prowess, Zev captured hearts with his playful demeanor and penchant for seeking out attention from adoring fans. He was often spotted happily posing for photos with those who admired him.
  5. Despite fierce competition from other top-tier horses during his era, Zev continued to shine brightly on the racetrack by showcasing unmatched speed, endurance, and an unwavering spirit in numerous thrilling races.
  6. The enduring legacy of Zev as a true icon in horse racing history lives on today through tales that immortalize him among the greatest champions ever seen on track – inspiring countless equestrian enthusiasts across generations with his incredible story of triumph and tenacity.

Legacy Beyond Racing

Zev’s impact goes far beyond the racetrack, making a lasting impression in the worlds of horse breeding and Hall of Fame honors. While he didn’t have major success as a sire, his name is forever linked to horse racing history thanks to his prestigious entry into the Hall of Fame. Being recognized among the top racehorses of all time solidifies his status as a true legend in the sport.

A key moment that showcases Zev’s enduring influence on global racing is when he defeated Papyrus in a historic victory. This win not only demonstrated Zev’s skill but also propelled him onto an international platform where he triumphed over tough competitors. The significance of this accomplishment resonated widely within racing communities, highlighting Zev’s exceptional talents and competitive drive that set him apart from other horses.

Even now, years later, Zev continues to be celebrated for more than just winning Triple Crown races; he embodies an era when champions captivated audiences worldwide with their remarkable abilities and unwavering determination. His legacy transcends mere numbers or victories – it represents a heritage founded on perseverance, elegance, and an unrelenting pursuit of excellence that appeals to fans and enthusiasts across different ages.

Contribution to Horse Racing History

Zev was a star in American horse racing history during a crucial time. His wins against rivals like Papyrus helped shape the sport’s story. Zev didn’t just win at home, he also went to Belmont Park for an epic race against British champ Papyrus. Their battle drew huge crowds and added glamor to Zev’s amazing career.

But Zev wasn’t just about one-on-one races; he made his mark by winning big titles like the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes within weeks of each other in 1923. His Triple Crown victory showed that he was among America’s top racehorses, with awesome speed and endurance on tracks all over the country. From Churchill Downs to Belmont Park, fans were captivated by Zev’s determination and incredible performances.

Beyond shining domestically, Zev wowed audiences around the world with his skills on different racetracks—a feat not many could pull off back then. He smoothly switched from dirt tracks in America to turf courses abroad, showing off rare versatility among Thoroughbreds of his time. With every stride towards greatness, Zev raced into legend as a symbol of excellence in horse racing—a hero whose legacy will forever shine brightly in this thrilling sport!

Post-retirement Ventures

After Eddie Arcaro retired from racing, he entered a whole new world outside of horse tracks. He embraced his role as a spokesperson for Buick Motor Division and brought his charm and wit to the car industry. With style, Arcaro created the famous slogan that would go down in advertising history: “If you test drive a Buick, you’ll want to own one.” His influence went far beyond just racing as people associated him with quality and elegance.

Apart from his work in cars, Eddie Arcaro’s entrepreneurial side shined bright in Beverly Hills where he decided to try out the restaurant business. Running an Italian eatery that not only served amazing food but also offered a classy atmosphere was quite an achievement. Through hard work and vision, Arcaro made himself stand out in California’s culinary scene—a sign of how versatile he was beyond just being a jockey.

Arcaro’s post-racing ventures show us how legends can excel outside their original field. From captivating crowds at racetracks worldwide to becoming an icon across multiple industries like automobiles and upscale dining spots—his legacy proves that greatness has no limits when determination meets opportunity head-on. The stories written after leaving behind the jockey life demonstrate not only success but also resilience in exploring new territories with flair and skill deserving of admiration.

Lasting Impact on Horse Racing

Zev had a huge impact on horse racing that went well beyond his time on the track. He left an unforgettable legacy in the history of the sport. Fans were captivated by his thrilling wins against top competitors like Papyrus, and he made history by winning titles such as U.S Champion Colt at age two and American Horse of Year at age three. These achievements not only highlighted Zev’s exceptional talent and determination but also cemented his status as a true champion.

His victories resonated across the world of horse racing, earning admiration and inspiring future generations. Zev’s perseverance served as a guiding light for young jockeys, trainers, and owners alike—showing what it takes to excel in equine sports. With each gallop towards victory, Zev embodied the essence of racing excellence—a mix of speed, stamina, and sheer determination that set him apart from others.

Even now, Zev remains a symbol of greatness in Thoroughbred racing—a legendary figure whose name is revered by fans worldwide. His story is a testament to hard work and passion in pursuit of athletic glory. As spectators look back on his remarkable career filled with thrilling wins under sunny tracks or rainy ovals amidst cheering crowds—the spirit of Zev lives on forever—racing through time like an unstoppable force across racetracks everywhere.


1. How did Zev’s victory in the 1923 Kentucky Derby solidify his place in horse racing history?

Zev’s win at the 1923 Kentucky Derby sealed his spot in horse racing history. Not only did he become the first gelding to claim victory in this renowned race, but he also displayed remarkable talent that paved the way for more successes in Triple Crown events down the line.

2. What made Zev’s Triple Crown triumphs in the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby so remarkable?

Zev’s wins in the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby were truly amazing. His incredible speed, endurance, and unwavering determination made him a true legend among American Thoroughbred racehorses.

3. Can you elaborate on Zev’s international match race success and its impact on his legacy?

Zev’s impressive win in the 1923 International Special at Belmont Park, where he defeated British champion Papyrus, showcased his skills as a top competitor and strengthened his status as one of the most outstanding American Thoroughbreds of that era.

4. How did Zev’s racing career contribute to shaping the landscape of American Thoroughbred horse racing during the early 20th century?

Zev established himself as a powerhouse in American Thoroughbred horse racing with his remarkable wins in the Triple Crown and successful international match races. His legacy continues to shape the sport’s landscape from the early 20th century.

5. What were some of the key characteristics that set Zev apart from other horses of his time, leading to his legendary status?

Zev’s incredible speed, endurance, and drive, along with his extraordinary talent for winning races in both the U.S. and around the world, made him stand out from his peers and cemented his reputation as a legend in the horse racing community.

6. How has Zev’s legacy endured over time, influencing subsequent generations of Thoroughbred racehorses and leaving a lasting mark on the sport?

Zev made history by winning the Triple Crown, dominating international match races, and passing on his exceptional bloodline. His achievements continue to inspire new generations of Thoroughbred racehorses and have left a lasting impact on the world of horse racing.