The 1986 Pennsylvania Derby
One of the most incredible displays of talent seen at Philadelphia Park came on September 27, 1986, when 4-5 favorite Broad Brush nearly fell victim to his own eccentric behavior in the $300,000 Pennsylvania Derby (G2). After taking command near the top of the stretch, the colt suddenly bolted directly at the outside fence.
Most racehorses would have simply given up after such a disaster, or even continued fighting the jockey. Instead, under Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero, Jr., Broad Brush straightened out from fifth position, and stormed down the sloppy course, unwilling to admit defeat. With unbelievable ferocity, they grabbed the lead thirty yards from the wire and pulled away to a length and a quarter victory.
“He scared me to death,” Cordero admitted. “He just left the course. If it weren’t for the cars over there, he might have ended up in the parking lot.”
Broad Brush was trained by Richard Small for owner/breeder Robert Meyerhoff. Though his connections had grown used to their star pupil’s unpredictable behavior, the PA Derby was still mind-boggling. Small noted, “I’ve never seen a horse behave so badly and still win, particularly in a major race.”
Broad Brush would go on to earn over $2.6 million before his retirement to Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. He passed away due to the infirmaries of old age in 2009.
If you’ve never seen the 1986 Pennsylvania Derby, take a look at the video below. It will truly make you appreciate the raw athleticism of this Thoroughbred racehorse!