Oldest living Derby winner in North America reunites with jockey

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The relationship between horse and jockey in the Kentucky Derby is a two-minute partnership that can thrust both into horse racing history. That happened 23-years ago for Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron and Kentucky-bred ‘Go for Gin.’

On the first sloppy Kentucky Derby day track in 46 years on May 7, 1994, ‘Go for Gin’ and McCarron went wire-to-wire to win the 120th running. “It was just an unbelievably exhilarating feeling. Go for Gin ran the best race of his life that day,” said McCarron.

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Fast forward to May 2017 and McCarron is back to reunite with his Derby day partner at the Kentucky Horse Park where ‘Go for Gin’ has resided in the Hall of Champions since retiring from stud in 2011.

“He looks like a three-year old,” said McCarron. At 26, ‘Go for Gin’ is the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner in North America. The oldest winner is 1993 champion ‘Sea Hero,’ who lives in Turkey.

‘Go for Gin’ is in terrific shape. He doesn’t look or act his age. He is adored by the tens of thousands of visitors who greet him each year at the Kentucky Horse Park. Hall of Champions Supervisor Rob Willis says he often asks visitors to guess ‘Go for Gin’s’ age and he says they’re always way off, sometimes by 20-plus years.

‘Go for Gin’ was a generous and honest race horse. He finished in the money in 14 of his 19 lifetime starts that saw him earn more than $1.3 million on the track. At stud, he sired seven stakes winners, including ‘Albert the Great,’ who won more than $3 million on the track. ‘Go for Gin’s’ offspring netted more than $22 million.

The argument can be made that ‘Go for Gin’is one of the greatest Triple Crown campaigner’s ever. He won the Kentucky Derby and finished second in the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, losing to ‘Tobasco Cat’ in both classics by a combined 2 3/4 lengths. In other words, he was a fraction of a second away from winning the Triple Crown.

He gave jockey Chris McCarron one of the greatest rides of his remarkable career and he is forever grateful. “It’s indelible. You can’t take those memories away. To cross the wire at the Kentucky Derby, you never forget it and you never get over it,” said McCarron.

It is interesting to note that 34 of the past 35 Kentucky Derby winners were descendants of ‘Man O’ War.’ The lone exception? You guessed it, ‘Go for Gin.’

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.