April 18, 1970: The New York State Legislature passed a bill enabling off-track betting.
April 18, 1999: Jockey Julie Krone concluded her riding career at Lone Star Park, finishing second aboard Desert Demon in the Lone Star Derby. Krone won 3,546 races in her career.
April 19, 1952: Native Dancer won his first race, at Jamaica racetrack.
April 19, 1969: Bill Veeck, promoter and president of Suffolk Downs, staged a $10,000 race featuring all female jockeys, then a novelty in racing. Called the Lady Godiva Stakes, the event attracted such riders as Diane Crump, Tuesdee Testa and Robyn Smith. It was Penny Ann Early, however, who won the race-her first career victory. The previous year, Early had attempted to ride at Churchill Downs, but the male jockeys boycotted and the race was canceled.
April 19, 2000: Jockey Pat Day guided first time starter Unbridled Time to victory in the second race at Keeneland, giving the 46-year-old a record 717 victories at the Lexington, Ky. track.
April 20, 1949: Jockey Bill Shoemaker won his first race, aboard Shafter V, at Golden Gate Fields, Albany, Calif.
April 20, 1999: Trainer Charlie Whittingham died in Pasadena, Calif., of complications from leukemia. He was 86.
April 21, 1923: Eight-year-old Exterminator gained his 34th stakes victory, the Philadelphia Handicap at Havre de Grace, setting an American record.
April 21, 1973: In a surprising defeat, Secretariat finished third to stablemate Angle Light and runner-up Sham in the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, his last start before sweeping the Triple Crown. The following day, Secretariat was found to have had an abscess in his mouth, which may have caused him discomfort while racing.
April 21, 1998: Tim Smith was named Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
April 22, 1947: Citation won his first race by 1/2-length, at Havre de Grace.
April 22, 1970: Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed into law a bill allowing off-track betting in New York.
April 22, 1976: After winning the Florida Derby at odds of 1-20, Honest Pleasure ran in the Blue Grass Stakes as the 1-10 favorite. Only win wagering was allowed on the seven-horse field. Honest Pleasure won, creating a minus win pool of $41,876.20.
April 23, 1943: Judy Johnson was granted a license to ride in steeplechase races in Maryland, making her one of the earliest female jockeys.
April 23, 1973: Secretariat and his stablemate Angle Light were flown to Louisville, Ky., to prepare for the Kentucky Derby.
April 23, 1977: Seattle Slew won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack, his sixth consecutive win and his third win of the season. The race was his final prep for the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
April 26, 1853: En route to becoming England’s first Triple Crown winner, West Australian won the 2,000 Guineas, the first of three races that comprise England’s Triple Crown.
April 26, 1916: The first Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton, was foaled at Hamburg Place, Lexington, Ky.
April 27, 1973: At Churchill Downs, Secretariat worked six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 in preparation for the May 5 Kentucky Derby.
April 27, 1999: Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was elected to the National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.
April 28, 2001: Jockey Chris McCarron became the seventh American jockey to win 7,000 races, guiding Spinelessjellyfish to a neck victory in the Khaled Stakes at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. McCarron joined Laffit Pincay Jr., Bill Shoemaker, Pat Day, David Gall, Russell Baze and Angel Cordero Jr. in the 7,000 club.
April 29, 1976: The State of Connecticut opened its own betting parlors in 11 communities.
April 30, 1941: Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode four winners out of five mounts at Jamaica racetrack before leaving for Churchill Downs to ride Whirlaway in the Kentucky Derby.
April 30, 1989: Bill Shoemaker won his 1,000th stakes race, guiding Charlie Whittingham-trained Peace to victory in the Premiere Handicap at Hollywood Park.
May 1, 1943: Count Fleet won the “street car” Kentucky Derby, for which no tickets could be sold to out-of-town spectators due to wartime travel restrictions.
May 1, 1948: H.A. “Jimmy” Jones, son of Ben A. Jones, stepped aside as the trainer of Citation, allowing his father to be named the colt’s official trainer in the Kentucky Derby. Ben Jones was attempting to match the record of H.J. Thompson, who had trained four Derby winners. Citation did win and Ben A. Jones subsequently won two additional derbies, in 1949 and 1952, to set the mark for most number of wins in the Run for the Roses, six. Jimmy Jones was named as Citation’s trainer in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, however, giving the Jones family a Triple Crown sweep.
May 1, 1971: The New York Off-Track Betting Corp. offered wagering pools on the Kentucky Derby, the first instance in which parimutuel wagering on the race took place outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Churchill Downs had refused to sell the rights to the race to OTB, but the pools were offered nonetheless, generating handle totaling $1,043,005
May 1, 1976: Trainer Laz Barrera won three stakes in three different states: the Kentucky Derby with Bold Forbes; New York’s Carter Handicap with Due Diligence and the Illinois Derby with Life’s Hope.
May 1, 1993: Paul Mellon became the second person in racing history of have bred and owned winners of the Kentucky Derby (Sea Hero, who won the 1993 Derby) and the Epsom Derby (Mill Reef, who won in 1971). John Galbreath was the first to have accomplished the Derby double, which he did with Proud Clarion (1967 Kentucky Derby) and Roberto (1972 Epsom Derby).
May 1, 1999: Charismatic won the 125th Kentucky Derby at odds of 31-1, giving trainer D. Wayne Lukas his fourth Derby win and his owners, Bob and Beverly Lewis, their second Derby victor.
May 1, 2001: Holy Bull, Paseana, Maskette, veteran jockey Earlie Fires, and trainers Richard Mandella and Tom Smith, trainer of the legendary Seabiscuit, were elected to Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.