Mon July 8, 2013
1970 Kentucky Derby Winner Reburied at Derby Museum
Nearly 22 years after his death, the remains of a Kentucky Derby champion have been moved to a new grave.
Dust Commander now rests near the track where he captured the Run for the Roses in 1970.
A ceremony was held Monday morning in the Kentucky Derby Museum garden, where Dust Commander was buried alongside four other Derby winners.
Dust Commander died in 1991 and was originally buried in an unmarked grave on a farm in Paris, Kentucky that later changed ownership and was divided.
The long-misplaced site was finally located with the help of the Kentucky Derby Museum and the Paris-based Thoroughbred Breeders Museum.
Dust Commander’s remains were exhumed just last week and brought to Louisville in a handcrafted box.
"I was shocked. I didn’t have any idea because when Dust Commander passed away, it was John Gaines’ farm, Gainesway Farm. Of course, I didn’t know what they did with him or had no idea, so I think that’s fantastic," said Don Combs, Dust Commander's trainer.
Jockey Mike Manganello says the new burial site is a long-overdue tribute to his Derby mount.
"He did what you asked him to do," Manganello said. " He didn’t get too upset before a race, you could tell he was getting a little anxious, but never in a fractious manner, he just responded. Whatever I asked him to do, he was willing do to, to his best."
Dust Commander’s owner, Verna Lehmann, says she knows why her horse was such a fierce competitor.
"Oh, he was very mean, he liked to bite you. We had another horse, they were so much alike, by the name of John Henry. We bred him also. They were both about as mean two horses as we ever had on the farm," she said.
Dust Commander stood at stud after retirement, siring a total of 15 stakes winners , including 1975 Preakness champ Master Derby.