Featuring painting of 1892 Derby winner, Old Louisville home historic in more ways than one

Amazing painting of 1892 Derby winner featured in historic Old Louisville home

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Old Louisville is packed with historic homes, and each one has its own story.

The story behind 1366 South Third Street has deep ties to the Kentucky Derby.

Gregory Likins owns the home.

"Old Louisville does walking tours, and one of the tours was stopped out front and I listened to some of the tours about my house and the neighbors house and how they were, how they came about, when they came about," Likins remembers. "This house was built in 1892 from the winnings from Azra, the Kentucky Derby."

That's right, Azra, the 1892 Kentucky Derby winner, a purse that netted the owners just over $4,000

"We had to pay homage to the horse, who built the house," Likins said.

So knowing the history, Likins commissioned Louisville artist Susan Howe to paint a picture of Azra.

"I said, sure I can do that, the 1892 winner, no problem, I'll just look at the pictures and put something together, well when I looked at the pictures, there were none, there was a lithograph, and that was it," Howe recalls.

The spires were constructed in 1894-95. So she did some research.

"I was going to do some spires and whatever, getting all my ideas together, well there were no spires in 1892. So, I had to put it together, I had to just kind of dig and find out all kinds of information about the color of the horse and the racing stripes, the jockey, the jockey's history, it's just another wonderful door that opened," she said.

The work was meticulous. "The jockey colors were fun to pull together, it was peacock and gold, so I bet I painted the silks 20 times to try and get that old look."

Azra's jockey was 15 year-old Lonnie Clayton.

"There's so many firsts for this horse, it's the youngest jockey that ever won the Derby," Howe uncovered, plus, "the youngest African American jockey that ever won the Derby at age 15. The horse was the first horse that was bred in Louisville that won the Derby."

The finished painting is 54 X 80 and hangs right inside the double front doors of Likins home. Now Azra, bred at Bashford Manor Stable, is a conversation piece. He was the first of three horses bred at the farm to win the Kentucky Derby.

"People  see that, they notice it right away and then you can tell them about the horse and how the house, how it all fit together," Likins says with pride.

Azra won that Derby in a field of just three horses, he also won the Travers Stakes later that summer.

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