Black Gold was an American Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 50th running of the Kentucky Derby in 1924.
Black Gold's dam, U-See-it, was owned by Al Hoots. As a race mare, U-See-it was not fashionably bred, but she was fast. There was only one horse the Oklahoma-bred could never beat in her 6 furlong races at small western tracks: the Hall of Famer Pan Zareta. But she outclassed most other rivals. U-See-it won 34 of her starts. It was her purse money that supported Al Hoots and his wife Rosa. The Hoots lived in Indian territory and were well known on the Texas/New Orleans racing circuit. In 1916, Al Hoots entered U-See-it into a claiming race in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Some say he first made agreements with the other owners and trainers that no one would claim her. But a man called Toby Ramsey apparently broke that agreement. Al Hoots held off Ramsey with a shotgun. Al Hoots and U-See-it were banned from racing for life. By 1917, Al was dying. In certain versions of the story he had a dream that if U-See-it were to be bred to one of the leading sires of the time, the foal that his beloved mare carried would win the Kentucky Derby. In other versions, Al merely hoped that this could happen. Rosa Hoots honored her husband's last wish. When oil was discovered in what is now Oklahoma, Mrs. Al Hoots (who was a member of the Osage Nation), shipped U-See-it to the Idle Hour Stock Farm in Lexington, Kentucky where Colonel E. R. Bradley's Black Toney stood at stud. The result was a black colt called Black Gold. Hanley Webb (or Hedley or Harry: depends on the source), who had been a close friend of Al Hoots and also trained U-See-it, was Black Gold's trainer. The man who groomed and exercised him was also his regular jockey, Jaydee Mooney.
Beginning at the New Orleans Fair Grounds on January 19th, 1923, Black Gold won nine races in 18 starts as a two-year-old. When he came out as a three-year-old, he won six races in a row, then moved up into Stakes company in the Louisiana Derby. He led at once, splashing through mud to wire the field and win by six lengths. Mrs. Hoots was reportedly offered $50,000 for her colt, but turned it down.
Black Gold went into the 1924 running of the Derby, America's greatest race, as one of the favorites. In 1924, the Kentucky Derby was fifty years old and was therefore celebrated as the "Golden Jubilee Derby." It was the first time a golden cup would be presented to the winner and the first time "My Old Kentucky Home" was played before the race. Black Gold won it with a rough trip against strong competition in the last seventy yards. Ridden by J.D. Mooney, buffeted and bumped, he was forced to check...but recovered with grace and skill. Racing four and five wide with the very classy Chilhowee running ahead and the race seemingly his, Black Gold made his move, a move that took him right past Chilhowee and safely home for the roses.
Nicknamed "The Indian Horse," Black Gold did not race in the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes after the Derby. Instead, he went on to win three more Derbies: the Louisiana Derby, the Chicago Derby, and the Ohio State Derby. He was the first horse ever to accomplish winning the Derbies of four different states.
The Thoroughbred Record had this to say of Black Gold's greatest season: "...about as vigorous a campaign as a horse could be called upon to undergo, one that knew no let-ups and that never dodged a single issue."
Black Gold was retired to stud, but was not fertile. At the age of six, he was returned to the racetrack. He started four more times without a win. On January 18, 1928, at the age of seven, he was started one more time in the Salome Purse at the New Orleans Fair Grounds. Trying desperately to make up ground in the stretch, he broke down, but did not stop. Black Gold finished the race on three legs. He was humanely euthanized on the track. He's buried in the infield of the Fair Grounds close to the sixteenth pole, next to his mother's old rival, Pan Zareta. The Thoroughbred Record wrote that Black Gold was "...as game a horse as ever stood on plates."
A male line descendant of Eclipse, in 1989, he was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.