May 22, 1974: Locust Hill Farm’s Ruffian won her first start, a maiden race for two-year-old fillies, by 15 lengths at Belmont Park. Sent off at odds of 4-1, Ruffian completed the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.
May 23, 1936: Rushaway, ridden by John Longden, won his second derby in as many days, taking the 1 1/4-mile Latonia Derby at Latonia in Covington, Ky. Rushaway had won the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby, run at Aurora, outside Chicago, the previous day.
May 23, 1992: Jockey Jacinto Vasquez had his 5,000th career winner, aboard Susan Pixum, at Calder Racecourse.
May 23, 1992: Angel Cordero Jr. made his first start as a trainer, with Puchinito, who finished fifth in the fifth race at Belmont Park.
May 24, 1905: Harry Payne Whitney’s Tanya became the second (and last) filly to win the Belmont Stakes. Ruthless was the first filly to win the Belmont, in 1867. Whitney also won the Kentucky Derby with a filly, Regret, in 1915.
May 24, 1977: At odds of 13-1, Louis and Patrice Wolfson’s two-year-old colt Affirmed won his maiden race by 4 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park, ridden by jockey Bernie Gonzalez.
May 25, 1991: Jockey Steve Cauthen won his fourth European derby, the Derby Italiano, with Hailsham, trained by Clive Brittain. Cauthen has also won the Epsom Derby twice, the Irish Derby and the French Derby, in addition to his Kentucky Derby win with Affirmed.
May 25, 1998: Jockey Eddie Maple announced his retirement at Belmont Park while accepting the 1998 Mike Venezia Award. Maple ended his career with 4,398 career victories and earnings of $105,318,593.
May 27, 1823: A $20,000 match race between American Eclipse (representing The North) and Henry (representing The South) was held at Union Course, Long Island. Eclipse won in two-of-three heats, after his original jockey, William Crafts, was replaced by Samuel Purdy before the second heat. The race, witnessed by 60,000 spectators, was the first to have been timed by split-second chronometers, which were imported for the event.
May 27, 1873: A bay colt, Survivor, won the first Preakness Stakes by 10 lengths, the largest margin in the race’s history.
May 27, 1878: The entire field of Preakness Stakes horses — three — was owned by a single family, the brothers George and Pierre Lorillard. George’s horses finished first and third.
May 27, 1882: Trainer Robert Walden won his fifth consecutive Preakness Stakes, with Vanguard. Walden won a total of seven Preaknesses, a record for a trainer.
May 27, 1979: Jockey Chris McCarron, 24, won his 2,000th career race, aboard Stembok, in the second race at Hollywood Park.
May 27, 1981: Bill Shoemaker became the first jockey in racing history to win 8,000 races when he rode War Allied to victory in the first race at Hollywood Park.
May 27, 1985: Under jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., odds-on favorite Spend a Buck defeated Creme Fraiche by a neck to win the Jersey Derby and earn $2.6 million, the largest single purse in American racing history. Two million dollars of the purse came from a bonus to Spend a Buck for winning the Cherry Hill Mile, the Garden State Stakes, the Kentucky Derby and the Jersey Derby. Angel Cordero Jr., the regular rider of Spend a Buck, was committed to ride Track Barron in the Metropolitan Handicap in New York on the same day and was persuaded to give up his mount in the Jersey Derby. Track Barron finished third in the Metropolitan, earning $40,620.
May 28, 1997: Visa USA and Triple Crown Productions announced that they had increased the bonus for winning the Triple Crown to a total of $5 million.
May 28, 2000: Jockey Edgar Prado registered his 4,000th career victory aboard Thunder Breeze in the second race at Belmont Park.
May 29, 1897: Scottish Chieftain, owned by Marcus Daly, became the only Montana bred to win the Belmont Stakes.
May 29, 1907: Colin began his undefeated career, breaking his maiden by two lengths at Belmont Park.
May 29, 1946: Two-year-old fillies Chakoora and Uleta became the first Thoroughbreds to complete a transcontinental flight. They were flown from New York to Inglewood, Calif., by the American Air Express Corporation, for a 2,446-mile trip that lasted 20 hours due to adverse weather conditions.
May 30, 1903: Flocarline became the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes.
May 30, 1908: Jockey Joe Notter misjudged the finish of the Belmont Stakes and eased up on his mount, Colin, whose career record to that point was 13-for-13. Notter barely recovered from his mistake to hold off the drive of Fair Play, who came within a head of defeating Colin. When he retired, Colin’s record stood at 15 wins in as many starts.
May 30, 1936: Omaha, the Triple Crown winner of 1935, won the Queens Plate at Kempton Park, England, for owner William Woodward.
May 30, 1941: Hollywood Park introduced the “vibrationless camera,” developed by Hollywood cameraman Lorenzo del Ricio. Eight patrol judges with the cameras, which were attached to their binoculars, were stationed at intervals around the track. Jockey Nunzio Pariso was the camera’s first victim — he was shown on film crowding a rival on the far turn.
May 30, 1969: Patricia Barton won her first career race, at Pikes Peak.
May 31, 1969: Racing returned to Pennsylvania when Liberty Bell racetrack opened, near Philadelphia. The state had not had legal racing since 1802 and became the 30th state to adopt parimutuel wagering.
May 31, 2001: Jockey Pat Day became just the third jockey in history to win 8,000 races, hitting the milestone by winning the sixth race at Churchill Downs aboard Camden Park. Day joined Laffit Pincay Jr. and Bill Shoemaker in the 8,000 club.
June 1, 1881: Pierre Lorillard’s Iroquois became the first American-owned and -bred horse to win a European classic race when he won the Epsom Derby under one of England’s greatest riders, Fred Archer. Iroquois won seven of nine starts as a three-year-old, including England’s St. Leger Stakes.
June 1, 1946: Assault became the seventh horse to win the Triple Crown, with a victory in the Belmont Stakes.
June 1, 1973: In his final tuneup for the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, Secretariat went six furlongs in 1:11 3/5, doing the first three furlongs in :35 2/5 and five furlongs in :59.
June 1, 1978: In his first start ever on the turf, eventual four-time champion grass horse John Henry won a $35,000, 1 1/16-mile claiming race by 14 lengths at Belmont Park. John Henry was voted champion turf horse for the years 1980-81 and 1983-84.
June 1, 1999: Mr. Prospector, the most influential sire of his generation, died in his stall at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky. He was 29.
June 2, 1943: Trainer Hirsch Jacobs claimed two-year-old Stymie for $1,500. By the end of 1947, Stymie had become the world’s leading money-winning Thoroughbred, with earnings of $816,060 and 22 stakes victories.
June 2, 1947: After a six-year layoff, 13-year-old Honey Cloud won the second race at Aqueduct. His jockey, Clarence Minner, had not ridden in 10 years.
June 3, 1943: To further the war effort, the Navy took over Tanforan racetrack and used it as a training base.
June 4, 1870: Ed Brown became the first African-American jockey to win the Belmont Stakes, with Kingfisher.
June 4, 1913: At odds of 100-1, Aboyeur became the first horse to win the Epsom Derby by an on-course disqualification after Craganour, who won by a head, was disqualified for bumping. During the race, a suffragette had rushed onto the track and pulled down the King’s horse, Anmer. The suffragette, Emily Davison, died of a fractured skull.
June 4, 1941: Three days before his race in the Belmont Stakes, which would complete his Triple Crown, Whirlaway worked 1 1/4 miles in 2:02 2/5.