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President Richard Nixon at the Kentucky Derby, 1969

Posted on May 3, 2017 | in Uncategorized | by

President Richard Nixon was a guest in the finish-line box of Kentucky Gov. Louie Nunn, at right of Nixon, in Nunn’s Churchill Downs finish-line box on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3, 1969. Nixon was the first — and only — sitting president to attend theDerby. He did pick the winner of the 95th Run for the Roses, Majestic Prince, who hailed from Nixon’s native California. “He won! He won!” the 37th U.S. president shouted to Louella Dirksen, wife of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, as Majestic Prince crossed the finish line. The president and his wife, Pat, did not, so far as could be determined, bet on the race. Nixon was asked during the day whether he planned to sample a mint julep. “I’m going to savor this race Kentucky style,” was his diplomatic answer. Nixon attended the Derby as part of a campaign pledge to Nunn, who was hosting 24 other governors in connection with the Republican Spring Governor’s Conference that week in Lexington. Also attending that day was then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan, the future president, and his wife, Nancy Reagan. Within 35 minutes of the end of the race, Nixon was aboard Air Force One, flying back to Washington. Herald-Leader Archive Photo

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