Knoxville entered the winner’s circle in 1975

Foolish Pleasure won the 1975 Kentucky Derby.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 9:42 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -The greatest two minutes in sports is set to run for the 148th time on the first Saturday in May.

There, the best and fastest will lay it out on the tack. As the 148th renewal gets underway, WVLT rewinds to the time Knoxville cemented itself a part of horseracing history.

Nearly 50 years ago, Foolish Pleasure captured the 1975 run for the roses.

The thoroughbred and his owner, Knoxville native John L Greer, earned themselves a spot in the winner’s circle and the 101st running of the Kentucky Derby.

Beth Kinnane, Community News Editor, said, “That is such a rare thing, I think John L Greer belongs in the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame. He won the Kentucky Derby.”

Director of Communications, Kentucky Derby Museum added, “Every year there are thousands of thoroughbreds that are born. Only 20 make it to the Kentucky Derby.”

And only one reaches the winner’s circle, draped in the garland of roses.

“Nearly 50 years after the fact I think it was time Knoxville was reminded we had a Derby winner and he was remarkable,” said Kinnane.

John L Greer was the part-owner and board chair of Kern’s Bakery in south Knoxville.

Greer had a love for horses and horseracing. So, by the time he purchased Foolish Pleasure, he was a millionaire with experience on the racetrack with his colt, Ridan, back in the 1960s, according to Beth Kinnane.

“So John Greer had gone to the Kentucky Derby before with a favorite and finished third,” said Kinnane.

Foolish Pleasure and Greer came to Louisville with all the promise and momentum to beat the field for the trophy.

Kinnane continued, “He was undefeated as a two-year-old. Won two of his three starts heading into the Kentucky Derby and then he wins the Kentucky Derby.”

“Every Kentucky Derby has a story and we’ve had 147 of them,” said Collier. “And we’re coming up on Derby 148. It’s always neat to see people figure out what tie they have to the Kentucky Derby. And for Knoxville, Tennessee that’s 1975′s winner, Foolish Pleasure.”

A feat only a few get to try and even fewer succeed.

Collier said when asked about the degree of difficulty to claim the garland of roses, “I just got goosebumps when you asked me that question because it is the greatest race in the world.”

Collier expanded, “The top 20 thoroughbreds in the world are racing this weekend for the title, for the blanket of roses. So, even if you come in last place, you’re still in the top 20 in the world.”

Kinnane said, “It’s incredible. Now, he went out there and ran his race. It is unfortunate for history as the track caller got him wrong until the last 1/16 of a mile. If it was even that much.”

In May 1975, Knoxville became home to a Kentucky Derby winner. Foolish Pleasure also peaked in the height of the spot, surrounded by Triple Crown winners.

Kinnnae said, “He raced in an era of giants, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirm, who won the triple crown. He was still a remarkable racehorse. .. You’re not a slouch racehorse if you win in the Kentucky Derby, place second in the Preakness, and second at Belmont. So. he was a remarkable racehorse.”

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