Johnstown
(Jamestown -- La France, by Sir Gallahad lll)

 

 
 

 
 
 

1939 Kentuckey Derby Winner
 May 6, 1939  -  2:03 2/5 Fast
Johnstown . . . 8 lengths . . . J. Stout . . . 126 . . . Challedon . . . Heather Broom

 
 
 

 

 
 
  Johnstown . . . the eventual Horse of the Year also had as much or more, competition than he could handle right in his own age division during the first half of 1939. Johnstown, winner of seven races, including four stakes, as a two-year-old, made an impressive entrance as a three-year-old by defeating older horses in the  Paumonok Handicap of April 15. Next he set a new track record of 1:40 4/5 for a mile and 70 yards in an overnight race at Jamaica then followed with another victory over his contemporaries in the Wood Memorial.
 In May, the Belaire Stud colt started as an odds-on-favorite for the Kentucky Derby, and won, leading all the way, with never a rival within hailing distance. Jimmy Stout, who had been dumped by Omaha, had a rocking chair ride this time. Challedon finished second -- 8 lengths away.
 
 

After the real call to the Derby post is blown, as the Kentucky Derby starters make their way from the paddock onto the track, the crowd in the grandstands rises as the University of Louisville band plays what has become all but the official song of the state of Kentucky. It is one of the most emotional moments in sports.

 

 

My Old Kentucky Home excerpted from the 1939 Kentucky Derby Dinner. The singing was led by Govenor Happy Chandler and his wife Mildred. The dinner was broadcast by WHAS in Louisville and the Audio-Visual Archives at the University of Kentucky's King Library has a complete recording.

Audio
 

 

"My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!" was adopted by Kentucky as its state song in 1928. It was written by Stephen Foster in 1853 and is said to have been inspired by his visit to Federal Hill, the Bardstown home of his Rowan cousins. Federal Hill is now a part of My Old Kentucky State Park.