BLACK GOLD (1921–1928).
Winner of the 1924 Kentucky Derby, "The Indian Horse" Black Gold was a Thoroughbred owned by Rosa Hoots of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rosa was the widow of Al Hoots, owner of U-See-It, a race mare with thirty-four victories. Ownership of U-See-It passed to Rosa Hoots upon her husband's death in 1917.
Rosa Hoots was an enrolled member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma. An oil boom during the early decades of the twentieth century brought wealth to the Osage people. Hoots used her mineral income to ship U-See-It to Kentucky, where she was bred with the stallion Black Toney. The union produced a jet-black foal, which Hoots named "Black Gold" in honor of Oklahoma's growing petroleum industry.
Black Gold began his racing career with a victory at the New Orleans Fair Grounds track on January 8, 1923. The win was the first of nine he recorded as a two-year-old. The colt began the year 1924 with four consecutive victories, including the Louisiana Derby, before winning the inaugural Derby Trial Stakes at Churchill Downs. One week later, on May 17, 1924, Black Gold won the fiftieth running of the Kentucky Derby. With the win Rosa Hoots became the first woman to have bred and owned a Derby winner. Skipping the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (the term "Triple Crown" was not commonly used before 1930), Black Gold secured wins at the Ohio State Derby and Chicago Derby to finish the year with nine victories.
After a brief retirement Black Gold returned to competition in December 1927. Past his prime and injury prone, the horse was winless in three starts when he returned to the New Orleans Fair Grounds on January 18, 1928. Nearing the finish line of the Salome Purse, Black Gold stumbled and broke his left foreleg above the ankle. The decision to euthanize was almost immediate, and he was buried the following day in the infield of the track. The Black Gold Stakes were later run at the Fair Grounds in his honor. It became a tradition for the winning jockey to place flowers on Black Gold's grave in tribute.
Black Gold recorded 18 wins in 35 starts, with 5 second- and 4 third-place finishes. His total earnings were $111,553. A movie loosely based on the horse's career was made in 1947. Titled Black Gold, it starred Anthony Quinn. In 1957 Marguerite Henry wrote about the Derby winner in her children's book Black Gold. Black Gold was named to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1989.
Jim Bolus, Derby Magic (Gretna, [La.]: Pelican Publishing Company, 1997).
"Black Gold," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Jon D. May, "Black Gold," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=BL018.
© Oklahoma Historical Society.