According to family legend, Henry Forrest watched his first Kentucky Derby in 1921 from the roof of a barn at Churchill Downs and told his buddies that someday he would be where the trophies are presented. It took more than 40 years, but Forrest’s prediction came to fruition when Kauai King won the Kentucky Derby in 1966.
Forrest was born on July 7, 1907 in Covington, Ky. As a teenager, he assisted with his father’s horse rental business before he began working with Thoroughbreds at Colonel E.R. Bradley’s famed Idle Hour Farm in Lexington, Ky. Forrest was hired as an exercise rider, a job he held at the farm and the racetrack for more than 25 years. He also had a brief career as a jockey before turning to training.
Although he took out a trainer’s license at the age of 18 while working for Rome Respess, Forrest didn’t set up his own stable until 1937. He established a strong reputation in Kentucky and eventually became the winningest trainer at both Churchill Downs (271) and Keeneland (153).
Forrest operated a public stable for most of his career. While based in Kentucky, he raced Thoroughbreds in the Midwest, South and East. His victory in the 1966 Derby led to positions with Calumet and Claiborne farms.
After winning the Run for the Roses with Kauai King, Forrest captured his second Kentucky Derby with Forward Pass in 1968 (both Kauai King and Forward Pass also won the Preakness). Forward Pass shared the title of Champion 3-year-old with Stage Door, the horse that ended his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes.
Forrest also won the Florida Derby, Oaklawn Handicap, Rebel Stakes, Washington Park Handicap, Fountain of Youth Stakes, Blue Grass Stakes, Saranac Stakes, American Derby and Gravesend Handicap.
Less than a year before he died in 1975, Forrest won The Julep Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs with Barclay Jet. For his career, Forrest won 1,837 races and had purse earnings of $6,575,236.
Henry Forrest was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2007.