One hundred years ago, on May 10, jockey Roscoe Goose closed in the stretch with Donerail to win the Kentucky Derby in 2:04 4/5 at the longest odds in history. Donerail went off at over 91-1 and paid $184.90 for a $2 bet. The next biggest payoff was Mine That Bird in 2009, with a $2 wager returning $103.20.
Goose was born near Louisville, Kentucky (Jeffersontown) in 1891 and died in Louisville in 1971 at age 80. He was nicknamed “the Golden Goose.”
Goose is one of the jockeys who have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks. He rode the filly Kathleen to victory in the 1916 Oaks.
Following his career as a jockey, Goose was an owner, trainer, and bloodstock agent. He mingled with rich and poor alike and did much for the needy. One of his friends was J. Graham Brown, a well-known Louisville entrepreneur and racehorse owner. The famous Brown Hotel was the centerpiece of his empire and a popular gathering place for visitors during Kentucky Derby week, then as now.
Goose’s brother Carl went by a different last name, Ganz, which was the original spelling of Goose. Carl Ganz won the 1913 Kentucky Oaks on Cream. In 1915, he was killed in a racing accident at Latonia (now Turfway Park), located in Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati, Ohio.
Donerail was owned and trained by Thomas P. Hayes. Donerail’s career record was 10 wins, 11 places, and 10 shows from 62 starts. His earnings were $15,156; this is approximately equivalent to $356,354 today. Donerail, by McGee out of Algie M. by Hanover, was inbred on his dam’s side to the renowned 19th century sire Lexington.
Roscoe Goose is buried in Louisville’s grand Cave Hill Cemetery. In 2012, the house where he lived for a good part of his life at 3012 South Third Street, not far from Churchill Downs, was designated an historical landmark by the Louisville Metro Landmarks Commission.
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