A Proud Tradition Begins
It was just 10 years since Abraham Lincoln had fallen to an assasin's bullet. General Ulysses S. Grant was president of the United States. J.P. McGrath's Aristides had won the first Kentucky Derby a few months earlier. Custer had yet to meet his demise at the Little Big Horn. And reconstruction of the south was all but complete following the Civil War.
The date was Tuesday, September 28, 1875, and it was the inaugural opening day of the Great Fall Trots at The Red Mile, sponsored by the newly reorganized Kentucky Trotting Horse Breeders Association.
Tucked away on a remote page of the Lexington Daily Press of the following day was a less than glowing account of The Red Mile's birth. It began:
There was a very slim attendance at the trotting races yesterday, not withstanding, that very fair sport was offered.
Apparently the founding fathers had neglected to advertise the grand opening adequately, so the Daily Press reporter took great pains to inform the public that races were indeed in session and they started each day at noon. Thereafter attendance picked up.
The Red Mile was off and running!