2020 is the 146th running of The Kentucky Derby®, a horse race often referred to as the ‘Fastest Two Minutes in Sports’. The week leading up to the Derby is traditionally filled with a parade, a boat race, a hot air balloon race and it culminates with the running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. And we can’t forget the tradition of colorful hats, cigars and bourbon filled mint juleps. Unfortunately like most everything else there is very little that is traditional this year. The global Covid-19 pandemic forced the annual first Saturday in May race to be moved to the first Saturday in September. But don’t fret, the race will go and as of right now there will be fans in attendance.
1970 – First Female Jockey Rides in The Kentucky Derby
It was 50 years ago this year that something else happened at the Kentucky Derby that created a stir. In 1969 Diane Crump became the first female to ride as a professional jockey. At the time, she required a police escort to protect her from crowds that were protesting her participation and shouted at her with sayings like, “Go back to the kitchen and cook dinner.”
One year later in 1970 Diane Crump became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby. She rode a horse called Fathom that day and although the thoroughbred finished 15th, she rode into Kentucky Derby history. You can see the actual race in the video below. Crump lives in Virginia and remains involved in the horse industry today.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Crump’s accomplishment proceeds from the sale of this year’s Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Cup program will be donated in her honor to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
“The $1,000 Mint Julep program has become a cherished Derby tradition — and this year we are honored to mark an important moment in Derby history while also raising money for charity,” Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris said.
A total of 146 julep cups — celebrating Derby 146 — go on sale on Monday, August 3 at Woodford Reserve website. Cups numbered 1-25 are gold-plated (and sell for $2,500 each) while cups 26-146 are silver-plated (and sell for $1,000).
The cups feature etchings of the jockey silks worn in 1970 by Crump, along with the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. They are nestled in a walnut case with a replica of turquoise and white silks that Crump wore that historic day.
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In years past, anyone who purchased a julep cup could only pick it up on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. Due to the global pandemic, the cups will be sent directly to consumers and Morris will conduct a virtual julep experience on Derby Day, which has been postponed this year to Saturday, September 5, 2020.
Diane Crump’s 1970 Kentucky Derby Run
This book is a story of a pioneer. A rule breaker. In 1968, a few women, mockingly labeled “jockettes” by a skeptical press, had begun demanding the right to apply for jockey licenses, citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination in hiring based on race, religion, sex, or national origin. Most of their applications were rejected by racing’s bureaucracy, which alleged that women were unqualified to participate due to “physical limitations” and “emotional instability.” Female jockeys who attempted to ride met with boycotts by male jockeys.
That all changed in 1969 when a 20-year-old Diane Crump, who had long since demonstrated her riding proficiency during a thousand workout rides on a thousand difficult Thoroughbreds. On February 7, 1969, having been granted a permit to ride at Florida’s Hialeah Racetrack, Crump, surrounded by a protective phalanx of police officers, walked calmly toward the saddling enclosure as she endured heckles from the crowd. Just over a year later, on May 2, 1970, after 95 years and 1,055 all-male entrants, Diane Crump shattered tradition by becoming the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby. She didn’t win that day but she did on 235 other days. You can learn more about Diane Crump: A Horse-Racing Pioneer’s Life in the Saddle book here.