Local Legend

A week from tomorrow is the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby.

But if you’ll allow the Daily Racing Blog a bit of hometown pride, we’d like to harken back to the 1918 edition of the Run For The Roses. EXTERMINATOR was the 30-1, long-shot Winner of the Derby 105 years ago.

EXTERMINATOR was owned by Willis Sharpe Kilmer of Binghamton, who gained his wealth and notoriety selling Swamp Root, a magic elixir said to cure almost anything that could ail one back then. 

People would ask Kilmer, what was Swamp Root good for?  He would reply; “A couple million a year.”  

This cure-all contained all natural ingredients…as well as 9% alcohol.  WHEW!  Swamp Root Mint Juleps anyone?

It was the stablemate of EXTERMINATOR, a colt named SUN BRIAR that was supposed to be Kilmer’s Kentucky Derby horse that year, but due to health and training issues he was scratched from running. 

Kilmer instead entered Old Bones to run on that muddy track in Kentucky all those years ago, and the rest is thoroughbred legend.

No one trick pony was EXTERMINATOR, as he went on to have a great career.  He had 99 career starts with 50 Wins, 17 second, and 17 third place finishes, amassing over a quarter of a million dollars in earnings- which back then was a lot of hay !

EXTERMINATOR passed away on September 26th, 1945 at thirty years of age.  He died in his stall at Sun Briar Court Stables which were somewhere along Riverside Drive on the west-side of Binghamton.

Bones, along with his stablemates SUN BRIAR, and SUNTICA are buried at Whispering Pines Cemetery off of Gardner Road in the Town of Binghamton.

There is no need to fear this particular pet cemetery. A week from today, when Friday cocktail hour finally winds down, many local Derby fans will gather at the gravesite of Old Bones.

There they will salute a local legend or two as well as honor the great EXTERMINATOR. Glasses will be raised, toasts will be made and magic elixirs imbibed.

This gathering has become a Derby eve tradition in Binghamton as the local race fans assemble to have some fun, pay homage to the hometown hero and hope for an oat of divine equine portend as to who might be the upset Winner on the first Saturday in May.

One thought on “Local Legend

  1. Great story. Makes clear that there is more to the long history of this race than just the race. Fascinating.


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