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The Most Expensive Kentucky Derby Memorabilia

The Most Expensive Kentucky Derby Memorabilia
May 5, 2023
Bradley Calleja

Derby History

Easily the most famous and prestigious horse race to the in the world, the event has become an important part of American sporting culture and a symbol of tradition, glamour, and history.
But what about the race-used memorabilia?
First, let's get into some backstory regarding the 'Run for the Roses'.
First hosted in 1875, the Derby is one of the oldest sporting events in the United States and to be more specific, it is the old continuously running event in the nation. The race was conceived by Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., who was inspired by the Epsom Derby in England. Unlike many sporting events in the 19th century which took years to draw notable crowd sizes, the first Kentucky Derby was a success, attracting a crowd of over 10,000 people.
Over the years, the Kentucky Derby has grown in popularity and prestige, attracting not only horse racing enthusiasts but also celebrities, socialites, and politicians. The event has become a symbol of American culture, with its rich history and traditions, such as the singing of "My Old Kentucky Home" and the famous mint julep cocktail.
The Kentucky Derby has also produced some of the most famous horses in racing history. Secretariat, (more on him soon), is often regarded as the greatest racehorse of all time and won the Kentucky Derby in 1973, setting a record time of 1:59.40. Other famous Derby winners include Seattle Slew, who won the Triple Crown in 1977, and American Pharoah, who won the Triple Crown in 2015, becoming the first horse to do so in 37 years.
Other notable Kentucky Derby winners include:
  • Citation (1948): won the Triple Crown and set a new Derby record time of 2:05.40.
  • Affirmed (1978): won the Triple Crown in a fierce rivalry with Alydar, who finished second in all three races.
  • Barbaro (2006): won the Kentucky Derby by six and a half lengths but suffered a catastrophic injury in the Preakness Stakes.
  • Justify (2018): won the Triple Crown and became the 13th horse in history to do so.
The Kentucky Derby has also had its share of controversies and upsets over the years. In 1913, a longshot named Donerail won the race at 91-1 odds, which remains the biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history. In 1968, Dancer's Image won the race but was later disqualified after a post-race drug test revealed the presence of a banned substance.
With all this history and prestige, the Derby has carved a corner in the sports memorabilia market. So what have been the top sales and record-breaking results?

1985 Kentucky Derby Owner's Trophy

Price: $187,521
While multiple auction houses have showcased Derby collectibles, Lelands carries the crown as a leader in the sector. In 2016, the Auction House sold an owners trophy, won by the 1985 champion Spend A Buck.

1973 Secretariat Kentucky Derby Winning Race Worn Horse Shoe

Price: $80,736
Told you we'd circle back to the legend himself, Secretariat. In 2018, Lelands sold a Kentucky Derby-worn horseshoe, donned by the fastest horse to ever lap the track at Churchill. The hammer dropped above $80,000 and it's hard to imagine this lucky shoe would go for less than $250,000 today.

Jorge Velasquez Saddle used for Alydar

Price: $80,736
We have one more sale realized by Lelands and it's tied not only to a successful horse, but also a Hall of Fame jockey. This saddle was used for Alydar, the 1978 runner-up at the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. The legendary Jorge Velasquez, who won 6,795 races across his illustrious career, rode in the saddle during the Derby and the bidding closed at $35,850 in 2018.

1937 Kentucky Derby Full Ticket

Price: $45,600
This full ticket from the 1937 Kentucky Derby sold at Heritage in 2021 for more tan $45,000. The ticket carries extra significance as the '37 winner, War Admiral, would go on to win the Preakness and Belmont on his way to the Triple Crown. War Admiral would also go on to face-off against Seabiscuit in a match race. If you don't know how that race ended... we won't spoil the movie 'Seabiscuit' for you.

Ron Turcotte's 1A Armband

Price: $34,176
The man who guided Secretariat to blazing record-breaking times and a Triple Crown wore this 1A armband while breezing around the track in Kentucky. The band is one of the few Secretariat-related pieces of memorabilia known to have survived over the years and it final appeared at auction in 2017.

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