Remembering Go for Gin: Legendary Kentucky Derby Winner’s Lasting Legacy

The Legacy of Go for Gin, Oldest Living Kentucky Derby Winner

Go for Gin, the remarkable racehorse who captured the Kentucky Derby title in 1994, has sadly passed away due to heart failure. This legendary horse, who had been pensioned from stud duty in 2011, took his last breath at the Kentucky Horse Park. His demise at the age of 31 has marked the end of an era for the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner.

A Triple Crown Champion

Not only was Go for Gin the oldest living Derby winner, but he also held the distinction of being the oldest living winner of any Triple Crown race. He achieved this monumental feat following the tragic demise of A.P. Indy in February 2020, solidifying his remarkable legacy.

Fond Farewell to a True Champion

Chris McCarron, the jockey who guided Go for Gin to his illustrious victory in the 1994 Kentucky Derby, expressed his deep sadness upon hearing the news. McCarron fondly reminisced about the incredible bond he shared with Go for Gin during that momentous race. The memories of their triumph together will forever be etched in McCarron’s heart. With a heavy heart, he bids farewell to his old pal, Go for Gin.

A Journey of Triumphs, Tragedies, and Records

Go for Gin’s illustrious career was brimming with notable achievements, heartbreaking losses, and records that will forever be etched in horse racing history. Trained by the esteemed Nick Zito, this exceptional stallion paved his way to victories on numerous occasions.

Derby Preps and Emerging Victories

As a promising 2-year-old, Go for Gin showcased his potential by winning three remarkable races, including the renowned Remsen Stakes. The following year, in his 3-year-old debut, he triumphed in an unlisted stakes race at Gulfstream Park. Go for Gin’s journey towards the Kentucky Derby victory was marked by his performances in various preparatory races.

He secured a commendable second place in the Fountain of Youth, a prestigious race, and followed it with a fourth-place finish in the highly competitive Florida Derby. The Wood Memorial, another Derby prep, witnessed Go for Gin’s exceptional talent as he finished a close second, leaving everyone in anticipation of what awaited him at the Kentucky Derby.

The 1994 Kentucky Derby

With his impressive performances leading up to the big event, Go for Gin entered the Kentucky Derby as a commendable 9/1 fifth choice to win. The spotlight, however, was on Holy Bull, the invincible superhorse and the favorite with odds of 2/1.

Holy Bull had dominated the racing scene, winning seven of his first eight races and establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with. The racing world eagerly anticipated a showdown between these two formidable contenders.

However, the Derby had a different ending in store. In a surprising turn of events, Go for Gin triumphed with authority, leaving Holy Bull a distant 12th, a staggering 18 1/4 lengths behind. It was a stunning upset that defied all expectations.

The Preakness and Belmont Stakes

Following his glorious Derby win, Go for Gin’s journey continued to the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the remaining two legs of the coveted Triple Crown. Although he displayed admirable performances, Go for Gin narrowly missed victory in both races, finishing second to Tabasco Cat by a mere three lengths in the Preakness and again in the Belmont.

While Go for Gin did not manage to secure Triple Crown glory, his determination and consistency were evident throughout these races. His strength and resilience earned him a place on the board in six of his last nine races, solidifying his status as a top-tier racehorse.

A Proud Retired Champion

Following an illustrious career spanning 19 starts, Go for Gin retired to stud duty at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. With a remarkable record of 5-7-2 and a total earnings of $1,380,866, he left an indelible mark on the racing world.

In 2004, Go for Gin found a new home at Bonita Farm in Maryland, where he continued his legacy as a remarkable sire. One of his notable progeny is Albert the Great, who shone brightly in the world of horse racing, accumulating over $3 million in earnings, contributing to his father’s impressive total of $16.5 million earned by his offspring.

An Ambassador at Kentucky Horse Park

Following his retirement from stud duty, Go for Gin began a new chapter at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2011. He became an esteemed ambassador for the park, captivating visitors from around the globe with his grace, beauty, and rich racing history.

Go for Gin shared his stall space at the farm’s Hall of Champions with fellow Triple Crown race winners Funny Cide and Point Given, forming a triumvirate of iconic champions. The addition of Go for Gin to the Hall of Champions brought joy and inspiration to racing enthusiasts, fostering a greater appreciation for the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

A Farewell and Final Resting Place

The passing of Go for Gin has left a void in the hearts of all who knew him at the Kentucky Horse Park. Lee Carter, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park, expressed gratitude for the privilege of having Go for Gin as an ambassador for nearly 11 years. His presence brought countless visitors to the bluegrass, introducing them to the world of Thoroughbred racing.

In honor of his extraordinary contributions to the sport, Go for Gin will be laid to rest at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Memorial Walk of Champions. This sacred ground is home to an illustrious group of racing legends, including Forego, Bold Forbes, John Henry, Alysheba, and Da Hoss. Amidst this distinguished company, Go for Gin’s legacy will endure, inspiring future generations of racehorses and racing enthusiasts.


1. What made Go for Gin’s victory in the 1994 Kentucky Derby so remarkable?

Go for Gin’s victory in the 1994 Kentucky Derby was remarkable due to the unexpected nature of the triumph. With odds of 9/1 and facing a dominant favorite in Holy Bull, Go for Gin defied all expectations and emerged as the victor with a commanding lead. This upset victory solidified his place in racing history.

2. How did Go for Gin fare in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes?

Following his Kentucky Derby triumph, Go for Gin continued his quest for Triple Crown glory in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. While he displayed exceptional performances, he narrowly missed victory in both races, finishing second to Tabasco Cat in the Preakness and again in the Belmont.

3. What is Go for Gin’s lasting legacy as a sire?

Go for Gin’s legacy as a sire is commendable, with one of his notable progeny being Albert the Great. Albert the Great achieved remarkable success in the racing world, earning over $3 million of the impressive $16.5 million total earned by Go for Gin’s offspring.

4. Where will Go for Gin be laid to rest?

In recognition of his immense contributions to the sport of Thoroughbred racing, Go for Gin will be honored with a final resting place at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Memorial Walk of Champions. This revered location serves as a hallowed ground for racing legends, ensuring that Go for Gin’s legacy lives on.

5. How did Go for Gin captivate visitors as an ambassador at the Kentucky Horse Park?

Go for Gin’s grace, beauty, and rich racing history captivated visitors from across the globe during his time as an ambassador at the Kentucky Horse Park. His presence allowed visitors to develop a deeper appreciation for Thoroughbred racing, fostering a greater connection between enthusiasts and the sport that he loved.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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