Discovery | Horse Profile

Horse > Discovery


One of the greatest weight-carrying handicap horses in U.S. history, Discovery was born in 1931 at Mereworth Farm in Lexington. Originally raced by Adolphe Pons, Discovery was a good but not outstanding 2-year-old, winning twice. But the son of 1926 Preakness Stakes winner Display improved throughout the season and finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

He was sold at the end of his juvenile season to Alfred Vanderbilt II for $25,000. It proved a very good buy.

One of the horses that Discovery routinely lost to in his juvenile season was Cavalcade, an eventual Hall of Famer, and this pattern continued when they were three. The two met in the 1934 Kentucky Derby with Cavalcade finishing first and Discovery earning second. In the Preakness Stakes, Cavalcade was nosed into second by his stablemate High Quest, with Discovery finishing third. Neither contested the Belmont Stakes.

Discovery couldn’t beat Cavalcade in six 3-year-old starts, but he blossomed after the 1934 Triple Crown when taking on older horses. He won a series of important races, including the Brooklyn Handicap and Whitney Handicap.

Discovery took a while to get going as a 4-year-old, losing his first five races, but what came next was astonishing. He won 11 of his remaining 14 races that year, including a winning streak of eight, and carried up to 139 pounds. His victories included the Brooklyn Handicap (thrashing Triple Crown winner Omaha), the Whitney Handicap, Hawthorne Gold Cup, and Rhode Island Handicap.

There was no official Horse of the Year title in 1935, but his campaign was so impressive that he beat out Omaha when honors were handed out retrospectively, the only time a Triple Crown winner was not regarded as the Horse of the Year.

Discovery carried more huge weights when winning six of 14 starts as a 5-year-old, winning both the Brooklyn Handicap and Whitney Handicap for a third time.

Retired to stud with 27 wins in 63 starts and $195,287 in earnings, Discovery sired 25 stakes winners. His biggest impact came through his daughters, two of whom gave birth to Native Dancer and Bold Ruler.

Discovery was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 1969, just eleven years after his death.