May 9, 1889

On this day in 1889, Thomas Kiley riding Spokane won the 15th Kentucky Derby. Spokane, who had Irish lineage as a descendant of stallion Faugh-A-Ballagh (Ire. 1841), was the only Montana-born horse to win the Derby. According to a report in Horse Racing Forum James James, Jesse James’ older brother, was at the Derby on that day “looking like a Southern gentleman in his Prince Albert suit and white hat.” James won $2,400 on an early race on the card, then asked a bookmaker what the price was on Spokane in the Derby. “Ten-to-one, and the sky’s the limit,” the bookie replied. James slapped down $5,000 on Spokane, and the bookie declared, “as far as I’m concerned, that’s the sky.” James won his bet on Spokane.

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