These Are the Presidents Who Attended Horse Races Such as the Kentucky Derby (and How Donald Trump Compares)

The Kentucky Derby is an annual sporting event many Americans eagerly anticipate, and that often includes both celebrities and politicians. It isn’t uncommon to see famous faces in the crowds cheering on their favorite horses.

Many past presidents attended horse races, including the Kentucky Derby. Here are the commanders-in-chief who were (or are) fond of racing.

Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon

He was the first sitting president to attend. | Keystone Features/Stringer/Getty Images

President Nixon was actually the first sitting president to attend the Kentucky Derby in 1969. He attended with Mrs. Nixon, then-Governor Ronald Reagan, and Nancy Reagan, all rooting for the winner, California-based Majestic Prince.

Next: This president went to the Kentucky Derby three times.

George H.W. Bush

George HW Bush Oval Office

The elder President Bush attended three Kentucky Derbies. | J. David Ake/AFP/Getty Images

President George H.W. Bush is a big fan of horse races. In fact, he attended three Kentucky Derbies.

Next: Like father, like son.

George W. Bush

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush at Kentucky Derby

It runs in his family. | Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

According to the Kentucky Derby website, George W. Bush attended the Kentucky Derby in 2000. We’re guessing the love for horse racing runs in the family.

Next: This former president finally made it to the derby after his term was over.

Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter

He went with his wife in 1983. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter finally made it to a Kentucky Derby in 1983, two years after he left office. He attended with his wife and the next former president on our list.

Next: This president went to more Kentucky derbies than anyone who held the office.

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford

He was there 13 times. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

President Gerald Ford attended the Kentucky Derby a whopping 13 times. He witnessed two Triple Crown winners, Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978.

Next: Apparently this future president thought the derby was a vacation.

Lyndon B. Johnson

a portrait of lyndon b johnson

Johnson attended on his day off. | Keystone/Getty Images

According to the Derby Museum website, Johnson attended the Kentucky Derby in 1952. However, he was said to be uncommunicative that day, explaining to anyone who asked, “I’m not talking. This is my day off.” Fair enough.

Next: This president attended before his term, but no one knows the exact year.

Harry S. Truman

Harry S Truman

He attended before he was elected. | Keystone/Getty Images

It has been documented that President Truman did attend a Kentucky Derby before he was elected president. But the exact year remains unknown.

Next: This former president went to the Kentucky Derby when he was a governor.

Ronald Reagen

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan

Reagan went with Nixon. | Michael Evans/The White House/Getty Images

Ronald Reagan went to the 1969 Kentucky Derby with Richard Nixon and their spouses, and it was a special race — Majestic Prince won, and he was one of just seven horses who be undefeated going into the gates for the derby.

Next: This president never attended derby, but he still holds a place in its history.

Bill Clinton

president bill clinton giving his inaugural address

He called the winner in 1994. | Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Although Bill Clinton never actually went to the Kentucky Derby, the Derby Museum website reports that he was the first president who ever called and congratulated the winner in 1994.

Next: The history of presidents who loved horse races goes way back.

A history of presidents and horse racing

Horse racing has been a sport for centuries. | Rob Carr/Getty Images

According to the White House website, presidential parties attending horse races was a common occurrence as far back as the colonial period and early republic. Even before the seat of national government moved to Washington, D.C. from its old home in Philadelphia, horse racing was a very popular sport.

Next: Even our first president loved horse races.

George Washington

George Washington (1731-1799) on engraving from 1859

George Washington regularly attend horse racing. | GeorgiosArt/iStock/Getty Images

George Washington may have set the original precedent for horse racing. He regularly attended and bet on horse races throughout his life, mainly in Annapolis, Alexandria, and Williamsburg, the White House website states.

Next: So what about Trump?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump and then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, 2002.

He attended the derby with Melania in 1999. | Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images

There’s no telling whether or not President Trump will attend this year’s Kentucky Derby. If he does, it won’t be his first. He attended the 1999 derby with his then-girlfriend, Melania Knauss. And they had some interesting company.

Next: This former vice president was at the Kentucky Derby the same year as Donald Trump.

Al Gore

Al Gore speaking at environmental protection conference

Al Gore attended the same year as Trump. | Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Apparently Al and Tipper Gore also attended the 1999 Kentucky Derby, which they both loved. “We’re coming back, I can tell you, now that I know what we’ve been missing,” Al told reporters. Tipper reportedly bet $2 on that year’s winning horse, Charismatic, but Al didn’t place any bets.

Next: We wonder how many past presidents have indulged in the official derby drink.

Mint julep, anyone?

Gourmet Mint Julep on a wooden background

The mint julep is the official drink. | iStock/Getty Images

The mint julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, with an estimated 120,000 consumed during the race each year. And while it is well-known that President Trump doesn’t drink, we wonder how many past presidents indulged in the cocktail. According to the Derby Museum website, Nixon did in 1969, telling reporters he planned to forego his typical Scotch and soda in order to “savor this race, Kentucky-style.”

Next: If you’re watching the Kentucky Derby from home, here are some recipes you’ll love.

Having a derby party?

Kentucky Derby

There are plenty of recipes to get you ready for the race. | Elsa/Getty Images

You don’t have to be a president to appreciate the historic Kentucky Derby. If you’re hosting a viewing party at home, here are some classic Kentucky recipes you can try to make your party perfect.

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