Go For Gin has special bond with jockey, as he becomes oldest Ky. Derby winner
The 27-year-old champ still gets regular visits from jockey Chris McCarron.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- May 7th, 1994 is a day now retired jockey Chris McCarron will never forget.
It was a rainy and gloomy day, and thousands of race fans filled Churchill Downs with the hopes of walking away with a winning ticket. For McCarron, it was the day he rode thoroughbred Go For Gin for the second time and won his second Derby.
“Gave me goosebumps. When I turned for home and chirped to him and asked him to run,” McCarron remembered from his first time mounting Go For Gin. “He threw me in the backseat so to speak. He just accelerated so abruptly and gave me a real good feeling of confidence.”
Go For Gin and McCarron went on to race in the Preakness and the Belmont in hopes of winning the Triple Crown, but both times he lost by a fraction of a second. Unfortunately, Go For Gin’s racing career ended at 4 years old, after a torn tissue injury. He retired to stud the year after winning the Derby. One of his most notable offspring was Albert the Great. Several years later, the thoroughbred moved to the Kentucky Horse Park.
Go For Gin is now 27-years-old and not only wears the title of 1994 Kentucky Derby winner, but he is also the oldest living Derby winner in the country. He now lives in the Horse Park's Hall of Champions in Lexington. He is pampered every day with peppermints, carrots and lifesavers. Just like the day he won the Derby, he still gets excited when rain is falling and the ground is muddy. His handlers say he acts like the 3-year-old horse who won the Derby 24 years ago.
“He's literally a genetic phenom,” Rob Willis with the park said. “What's so special about him is his longevity. 30 would be old for a thoroughbred. And he's coming up on that age, but he doesn't show age at all. He looks 10 years younger than he physically is.”
While Go For Gin has many visitors every year, almost every other month, he gets a special visit from his friend Chris McCarron. McCarron said winning the Derby is an unexplainable feeling, but the feeling he gets when he visits Go For Gin is pure nostalgia.
“I get goosebumps. All I can think of is "Down the stretch they come!" said McCarron about his visits.
McCarron says every visit is a little sweeter than the last.
“All I could ever do was give him a big 'ole hug and a kiss and say thank you for what you brought me,” McCarron said.
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