Finishing last in the Kentucky Derby may not be bad

Finishing last in the Kentucky Derby may not be bad according to some connections of last place finishers. It was in 1999 that Eddie Plesa made his first trip to the Kentucky Derby. He brought Three Ring, a fine filly, but she didn’t have a great day.

“When you’re in Kentucky and they know you have a horse in the Derby, you’re a celebrity,” Plesa said. “I mean, they just do everything for you. When I left that experience, I could see why people spend any sum of money to participate in the Derby, because it’s that intoxicating.” The closest Plesa has come to revisiting the Derby experience was in 2004, when his brother-in-law, John Servis, trained Derby winner Smarty Jones.

Great Redeemer in 1979 was memorable, finishing last at 25 lengths behind the winner. He was so far back that photographers ran in his path, thinking the race was over.

Palm Beach’s Dan Borislow is so competitive, he considers it more of a learning experience. In 2001, Talk is Money, owned by Borislow, was last. “If you have a competitive horse, that’s a good experience,” said Borislow, inventor of magicJack, the device that allows phone calls via the Internet. “But if you know that your horse is going to finish in last place or near last place, you would never enter that horse. We thought he was a legitimate horse and woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day.”

Many of racing’s well known figures know what it’s like to be last in “the fastest two minutes in sports”. Trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher have been last.

New Yorker Donald Lucarelli owned two Derby horses from 2006-08, Keyed Entry and Monba. They placed, last and last. “Geez,” Lucarelli says. “I thought I was going to have a coronary right there when they were singing My Old Kentucky Home. Tears came to my eyes. No doubt about it. I’m very thankful we had all my family there, that everybody had a chance to experience it. In horse racing, it’s definitely a lifetime dream to be able to compete at that level.”

Kentucky Derby Tours had a connection to 2006 last place finisher Keyed Entry. Keyed Entry was bred by Pat Klussman of Oakbrook Farm. Pat and her late husband, Bill Klussman joined our Kentucky Derby Tours for many years.

In 2011, Comma to the Top, owned by 3 Hollywood movie maker, finished last with an injured ankle. The good news is that Comma to the Top has recovered, is still racing, and won a 7 furlong race late last year at Hollywood Park.