Through the years, the sports world has produced many great rivalries:
There’s Bird vs. Magic.
Ali vs. Frazier.
Ocala vs. Lexington.
Wait, what? Ocala vs. Lexington? What’s that about?
Not much, really. Just the bragging rights for the title of “Horse Capital of the World.”
With the Triple Crown season in full swing (albeit with no contender this year), let’s take look at this long-standing rivalry.
Both cities lay claim to the title, despite the fact that the Floridians won a legal fight a few years back to use the trademarked phrase. But try telling that to a Kentuckian. They’ll laugh in your face.
And yet – both cities boast more than 400 horse farms. The equine industry accounts for billions of dollars to their respective local economies. With lush, green, gently rolling hills, the landscape is similar as well.
With 111 out of 148, Kentucky has a lead on Florida in terms of Derby winners, including this year’s winner Rich Strike. Only six Florida-bred horses have won the Derby.
It’s worth mentioning that a Florida-bred horse, Simplification, came in fourth in the Derby and sixth in the Preakness this year.
Florida was essentially an also-ran in the equine industry until 1956. That’s the year Ocala-bred Needles won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. From that point on, Kentucky was on notice that the Sunshine State was a serious player in the thoroughbred game.
Since then, Florida has been the birthplace of many great horses. Five more Florida-bred horses have won the Kentucky Derby, and one, Affirmed, won the Triple Crown in 1978.
Many Kentucky-bred horses train in Florida before their racing careers begin. Even Rich Strike trained in Florida. You could say he has dual citizenship between the two states.
For some of us, the choice of which city is “The Horse Capital of the World” poses a dilemma. While TJM headquarters is in Ocala, your humble newsletter editor is a Kentucky native. So the only fair thing to do is leave it up to you, our audience.
Take the poll and tell us – Which city is the REAL Horse Capital?