More than one expert has agreed that this is probablythe largest collection of its kind in the world given the unique nature of the autographs. While there are surely more complete sets of Derby programs, it seems highly unlikely there are this many of them comprising a set of this nature.
The collection of Derby programs signed by the winning jockey includes a straight run from 2021 back to 1970. In addition, the collection includes a number of programs from the 60’s, 50’s and 40’s.
The list includes Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Northern Dancer, Dancer’s Image and others followed by every single one in recent memory since the 70’s.
The collection of Derby programs signed by ALL of the jockeys in the race is spottier but includes several long runs. They span mostly the years 1966-2016.
Along the way, our donor opted to pick up the Preakness and Belmont programs of the Triple Crown winners during his lifetime. He managed to get all the programs, but believe he is missing just one signature on one of them. That lot is separately up for sale.
The Secretariat Belmont program is the crown jewel of the collection.
There is a bit of a sense of humor within the collection (such as the year that our donor opted to get two programs because he felt that two jockeys had the right to say they were the winner that year). Sometimes the programs came with a pic of the jockey signing the race, and our donor left those in there.
How it began, why it is ending and what happens next:
It all started with eBay. Pretty close to when eBay became a thing, our donor ran a search for Derby memorabilia and found a Derby program that had been signed by the winning jockey. He soon found a few more and decided to make a thing of it. He started running searches on a weekly basis and picking up anything he could find that he didn’t already have. Next thing you know, 25-30 years have passed and the collection is extraordinary.
The focus started out being solely on Derby programs signed by the winning jockey. That’s by far the most impressive of the lots up for sale. But at some point our donor learned that all the jockeys in the race would get together to sign programs, and a side collection was started that proved to be pretty enormous too. That’s especially true when you think about names like Shoemaker and all the other greats who signed those programs year in and year out.
Getting the older ones was great fun. Our donor would check eBay at least once a week to see if anything filled on his wish list. Sometimes he would try to privately contact sellers to see if they had anything beyond what they had on eBay.
In the same weird way this quest started, it has now come to an end. Our donor feels he has accomplished all he wished to accomplish, and now wants to pass the collection along to people who will care about it and value these items as he has.
In reaching this milestone, our donor decided that he wished for the horses at the heart of horse racing to benefit from the sale of his collection.
He has pledged to donate the proceeds of the sale to the TRF… and we are so very thankful!