The first winner of the Tennessee Derby was a horse named Ten Strike. The Tennessee Derby was run from 1884 to 1906 in Memphis, Tennessee at Montgomery Park. At the time, the Tennessee Derby rivaled the Kentucky Derby for prestige and purse money. In 1907, the state of Tennessee outlawed gambling so unfortunately thoroughbred racing ended in Memphis.
Ten Strike was the son of famed horse Ten Broeck who had a popular folks song written about him named Molly and Tenbrooks. Ten Broeck is a member of the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. Ten Strike’s dam was the blue hen foundation mare Mannie Gray. She sired both Ten Strike and Domino.
Domino was not only a great race horse but also an extraordinary sire. He only stood at stud for two years with only twenty four offspring. Yet, from these small numbers he is found in the pedigree of almost every modern racehorse. Our syndicate chose the name Ten Strike as a tribute to the racing history of Memphis.
For most of the nineteenth century, Tennessee was acknowledged as the center of horse breeding and horse racing in the United States. During that time, Memphis, Tennessee was the epicenter of thoroughbred racing in the state. The track in Memphis was originally constructed in 1851 on plantation land, that at the time, was located just southeast of the city. This land is now the location of the Fairgrounds and Mid-South Coliseum. In 1882, Colonel Henry A. Montgomery organized the New Memphis Jockey Club, which purchased the race track and the surrounding land. The facility was named Montgomery Park at that time.
The track consisted of a one mile dirt oval 65 feet wide at all points. The Tennessee Derby was the main event of the meet in Memphis. This race, for 3 year old colts, was run annually from 1884 to 1886 and then again from 1890 to 1906. The Tennessee Derby rivaled the Kentucky Derby at the time for prestige and purse money. Two Tennessee Derby winners, Joe Cotton (1885) and Agile (1905) also won the Kentucky Derby.
We are proud of our Tennessee roots and wanted a name that recognized the history in our state.