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Did you know that, for a short time, geldings were prohibited from running in the Kentucky Derby?

In the summer of 1918, Col. Matt Winn announced that the Kentucky classic would bar geldings from participating in the race. This stirred a considerable furor, especially since the leading juvenile of 1918 was the gelding Billy Kelly, owned by Commander JKL Ross.

The rationale for prohibiting geldings was that “the government needs Thoroughbred stallions in great numbers for the work of getting military horses” and the “only way to meet that need is to make gelding … unprofitable by limiting the number of races in which geldings may take part….”

Fortunately, World War I ended before this knuckle-headed rule could actually be implemented, and the winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1919 was the chestnut colt Sir Barton, with his stablemate Billy Kelly second.

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