3 May 1997: Horses run down the stretch at the 123rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Silver Charm won the race.

This weekend marks the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby. It has been held at Churchill Downs in South Louisville since its inception. Over that time, six Kentucky Derby winners were bred in Florida.

Though it has been since 1997 since a Florida-bred horse has won, it’s the state that bred the second most winners. As you would expect, Kentucky is the state that bred the most winners. 114 out of the 148 winning horses have come from the Bluegrass State, according to Horse Racing Nation. (The report does not include last year’s winner ‘Rich Strike” who was also bred in Kentucky).

Silver Charm

1997 was the last year a Florida-bred horse came in first place. This derby was won by Silver Charm. In 2007, Silver Charm was entered in the United States’ Racing Hall of Fame. Silver Charm was a gray stallion with blazing speed. Silver Charm is now 29 years old and, “enjoying his retirement in Georgetown, along with many other horses at Old Friends Farm,” Old Friends states.

The Five Other Florida-Bred Winners

Horse Racing Nation lists the winners by year. Prior to Silver Charm, Unbridled won in 1990. The ’70s saw two winners with Affirmed winning in 1978 and Foolish Pleasure in 1975. It had been a 14 year gap with Carry Back winning in 1961. Finally, the first Florida-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby was Needles in 1956.

Secretariat, perhaps the most infamous racing horse was bred in Virginia. Along with California and Virginia both have four horses that were bred there, claiming the third spot on the list.

2023 Kentucky Derby Florida Connection

Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola is one of the owners of Forte, the horse that is the favorite to win this year’s Kentucky Derby. Though Forte was not bred in Florida, some of the Thoroughbred’s early training did occur in Ocala.

Though it has been 26 years since a Kentucky Derby winner was a horse that was bred in Florida, we’ll take a look back to tribute Silver Charm’s 1997 legendary race.

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