Skinner to auction 1947 Kentucky Derby trophy

BOSTON – Skinner, Inc., has announced it will auction a 1947 Kentucky Derby 14 kt gold winner’s trophy and commemorative mint julep cup, won by the American thoroughbred racehorse Jet Pilot, owned by Elizabeth Arden. The trophy will go on the block in Skinner’s June 7 auction of American Furniture & Decorative Arts. It is estimated at $60,000 to $80,000. Skinner is expecting interest to come from racing enthusiasts and collectors of sporting memorabilia.

Descended through the family of Elizabeth Arden, the trophy had been considered all but lost by Derby fans. Rediscovered in time for the 135th Derby, this memento can be a bidder’s prize. The Kentucky Derby gold winner’s trophy is believed to be the only solid gold trophy annually awarded to the winner of a major American sporting event since 1924, the “Golden Anniversary” of the Derby. The year 1947 was the 73rd running of the Derby and it was the first Derby race to feature a photo finish. 

“Skinner’s Americana auctions are all about honoring the cultural heritage of this country,” notes Chris Barber, Americana specialist at Skinner. “When it comes to horse races, there’s nothing more American than the Kentucky Derby. This trophy is a fun slice of American history, with rock solid provenance, and it is simply breathtaking.”

The trophy was presented to Elizabeth Arden, the cosmetics firm owner known in horse racing circles as Elizabeth Graham, on May 3, 1947, at Churchill Downs when her winning horse Jet Pilot, racing under her Maine Chance Farm colors, broke from post position 13 and took the lead, never relinquishing it. Jet Pilot’s jockey was Eric Guerin, and his trainer was Tom Smith, best known as the trainer for the renowned Seabiscuit.

For more information on the trophy or any Skinner auction, call 508-970-3000, or visit Skinner’s Web site now features real-time online bidding via the SkinnerLive bid applet.