My Old Kentucky Home

Derby post time – 6:24 ET

My Old Kentucky Home is one of the few state songs that is almost universally known.  I can’t tell you the official song of Illinois, California, or Idaho… but almost everyone has heard MOKH at some point or another.

That “some point?” It’s likely the Kentucky Derby.  In a time-honored tradition, the famous anthem is played as the horses come out on the track for the post parade.  The entire grandstand sings along (some fumbling the words, and often a bit slurred in the infield…).  Jockeys try to put on their “game faces,” but many will shed a tear or two.  It’s a very emotional moment, holding back excitement and hope, while paying tribute to the horses and races of years past, and to the state itself.

Anyone from Kentucky knows this song by heart.  And it means something extra special to a Kentuckian; it tugs at your heart strings a bit, no matter how many times you’ve heard it.  And you hear it a lot here…at football games, basketball games, the Derby, political events, almost as much as the Star Spangled Banner.  Still, you never get tired of it.  And heaven help an outsider who dares to diss the song– you may as well spit in our face.  It sounds corny, but MOKH is a love song– a love affair between a people and the place we call home.  We’re proud to share our song, our state, and our horses with the rest of the world on Derby Day.


by Stephen Foster

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
‘Tis summer, the people are gay;
The corn-top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.

The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By ‘n’ by hard times comes a-knocking at the door
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

Weep no more my lady
Oh! weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the Old Kentucky Home far away.

They hunt no more for the possum and the coon,
On meadow, the hill and the shore,
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by the old cabin door.

The day goes by like a shadow o’er the heart,
With sorrow, where all was delight,
The time has come when the people have to part,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.


The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the people may go;
A few more days, and the trouble all will end,
In the field where the sugar-canes grow;

A few more days for to tote the weary load,
No matter, ’twill never be light;
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.


Go eventing.
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