April 17, 1972: Future champion filly Ruffian was foaled at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky.
April 18, 1970: The New York State Legislature passed a bill enabling off- track betting.
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 won 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 ??-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 22, 2002: Ogden Phipps, philanthropist and Thoroughbred owner and breeder, died at age 93 after a short illness. Winner of an Eclipse Award as outstanding owner and breeder in 1988 and again as outstanding owner in 1989, Phipps won nearly every major stakes race on the East Coast as an owner or breeder.
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.
April 30, 2002: Two-time Horse of the Year Cigar and champion filly Serena’s Song were elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Also named to the Hll were trainer Bud Delp, jockey Jack Westrope and champion Noor.