New Book Recounts Author’s 83 Years at the Kentucky Derby


April 28, 2023

Real Life Exacta Kentucky Derby book cover square

In “A Real Life Exacta: Bourbon and 83 Kentucky Derbies,” by John S. Sutton Jr. and Amber D. Sims, readers are introduced to an autobiographical account of one man’s inspiring story of overcoming difficulties and unusual circumstances to create a significant and full life. It also serves as a celebration of his unmatched feat of attending the Kentucky Derby for 83 consecutive years, and a legacy for his family.

The focus of this book is to encourage readers to overcome any difficult situation they may face with tenacity and perseverance.

“I want people to realize that sometimes, what they perceive to be disastrous, can be overcome,” Sutton said in a news release. “They can try to amount to something, rather than be plagued by some malady they encountered in their early years.”

Sutton’s life events and family history came together in experiences that allowed him to consecutively attend the Kentucky Derby every year since 1940.

“My fascination with race horses came from my father,” said Sutton. “He was a great storyteller and a student of genetics. He fell in love with horses because of his father. My grandfather was a blacksmith and knew quite a bit about horses’ mannerisms. I am the beneficiary of all their knowledge and that information has been beneficial to me at the Derbies.”

Sutton looks forward to attending his 84th-consecutive Derby this year.

“I like the whole ambiance of the Derby – the dresses and hats and suits,” he said. “Everyone is dressed up and drinking liberally. You’ll see sights you’ve never seen before in your life. And I’m looking forward to winning, of course!”

Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1931, John S. Sutton Jr. is a race horse enthusiast and former bourbon distillery executive whose unique experiences allowed him to attend every Kentucky Derby since 1940. “A Real Life Exacta: Bourbon and 83 Kentucky Derbies” is his first book.

The book is available at Xlibiris, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To learn more, visit