Have You Ever Heard Of The Montana Horse, Spokane? It’s A Great Story.
The crowd was excited and boisterous on May 8, 1889 as the horses lined up in their stalls and got ready to race. There was Spokane, a chestnut thoroughbred stallion from Montana in gate five. Standing tall in gate nine was the heavy favorite, the massive Proctor Knott. The bell rang and they were off. The race was a mile and a half and as they rounded the turn and headed for home Spokane and Proctor Knott were neck and neck and the crowd was wildly cheering and as they crossed the wire it was Spokane by a nose. Spokane had just won the 15th running of the Kentucky Derby. Spokane paid $34.80 to win.
And that's how the story went and Spokane is still today the only Montana born horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby. The owner of Spokane, Noah Armstrong received $4,880 for winning the derby. Today at the Kentucky Derby the winner gets $1,860,000.
The barn where Spokane was born is still around today just outside of Twin Bridges, Montana. Inside that barn is an oval track for training. The barn is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The day Spokane won the derby was also a record time and it is a record that can never be broken. Back in the early days of the Kentucky Derby they ran a Mile and a half. That was later changed to just over a mile meaning Spokane's record will never be broken.
One final story on that May 8th date, rumor has it that Frank James, brother of Jesse James put $5,000 on Spokane to win.