The Kentucky Derby is held annually on the first Saturday in May. It culminates
the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is known as "The Run for the Roses" for the blanket of 554
roses draped over the winner. It is also referred to as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" or "The Fastest
Two Minutes in Sports" for its approximate duration.
Grade: 1 (best purse & prestige) Stakes Race
Location: Churchill Downs Louisville,
Distance: 1¼ miles (10 furlongs)
over a dirt track
Jockey Weight: Colt/Gelding: 126
lbs (57.2 kg) Jockey Weight: Filly: 121 lbs. (54.9 kg) Purse U.S: $2 million
1st Place: $1,425,000
"The Run For The Roses" "The Most
Exciting Two Minutes in Sports"
Most wins by a jockey 5
- Eddie Arcaro
1941, 1945, 1948, 1952) 5 - Bill Hartack
1960, 1962, 1964, 1969)
Most wins by a trainer
6 - Ben A. Jones
1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952)
Most wins by an owner
8 - Calumet Farm
1944, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1957,
Stakes Record 1:59.40
- Secretariat (1973)
Longest length to win a race
8 lengths - Assault (1946) 8 lengths - Whirlaway (1941)
Longest shot to win the Derby
91 to 1 - Donerail (1913)
No horse since
Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby
racing at age two.
Adapted from Wikipedia
There are a number of traditions surrounding the Kentucky Derby:
By far, The Mint Julep, an iced drink of bourbon, mint and a sugar syrup, is the iconic
beverage. Also, burgoo, a thick stew of beef, chicken, pork and vegetables, is a popular Kentucky dish served at
As the horses are paraded before the grandstands, the University of Louisville Marching
Band plays Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home," a tradition which began in 1924.
The infield, the spectator area inside the track, offers little opportunity to
see the race, but that was never the reason to be there. Revelers show up in the infield to party with abandon.
By contrast, "Millionaire's Row" refers to the expensive box seats that attract the rich,
the famous and the well-connected. Women appear in fine outfits lavishly accessorized with large, elaborate hats.
Run For The Roses
The Derby is frequently referred to as "The Run for the Roses," because a lush blanket
of 554 red roses is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner each year. The tradition originated in 1883 when New York socialite
E. Berry Wall presented roses to ladies at a post-Derby party that was attended by Churchill Downs founder and president,
Col. M. Lewis Clark. This gesture is believed to have eventually led Clark to the idea of making the rose the race's
official flower. However, it was not until 1896 that any recorded account referred to roses being draped on the Derby
winner. The Governor of Kentucky awards the garland and the trophy. Pop vocalist Dan Fogelberg composed the song "Run for the Roses" which was released in time for the 1982 running of the race.
Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing
The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the U.S. Triple Crown. It is followed
by the Preakness Stakes two weeks later; then, by the Belmont Stakes, three weeks after the Preakness. A horse must
win all three races to win the Triple Crown. This is a demanding challenge: 3 races with 3 different race lengths in 5 weeks.
Up to 20 horses may be entered in the Kentuck Derby. The horse entrees for The Preakness
and The Belmont is not this large. By the time the Belmont is run, often the field of horses is less than 8.
Attendance at the Kentucky Derby surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including
the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and the Breeders' Cup, which is considered the World Series of current Thoroughbred
In 1919, Sir Barton became the first horse to win all three races. However, the term
Triple Crown didn't come into use for another eleven years. In 1930, when Gallant Fox became the second horse to win all three
races, sportswriter Charles Hatton brought the phrase into American usage. Fueled by the media, public interest in the possibility
of a "superhorse" that could win the Triple Crown began in the weeks leading up to the Derby.
Two years after the term was coined, the race, which had been run in mid-May since inception,
was changed to the first Saturday in May to allow for a specific schedule for the Triple Crown races. Since 1931, the order
of Triple Crown races has been the Kentucky Derby first, followed by the Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes. Prior
to 1931, eleven times the Preakness was run before the Derby. On May 12, 1917 and again on May 13, 1922, the Preakness and
the Derby were run on the same day. On eleven occasions the Belmont Stakes was run before the Preakness Stakes.
TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS
H. G. Bedwell
J. K. L. Ross
Samuel D. Riddle
Ben A. Jones
Mrs. J. D. Hertz
Ben A. Jones
William Turner, Jr.
Karen L. Taylor
Lazaro S. Barrera
Harbor View Farm
Thirty-Seven Years Of Waiting For
Another Triple Crown Winner
have one on the 37th year.
2015, American Pharoah, Victor Espinoza, Bob
Baffert, Ahmed Zayat
BELMONT RACE FOR AMERICAN PHAROAH'S TRIPLE CROWN BID IN 2015
The Derby is one of the USA's oldest Thoroughbred horse races --the
Phoenix Stakes being the oldest, first run in 1831.
In 1872, Col.Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark
of the Lewis and Clark expedition, traveled to England, visiting the Epsom Derby, a famous race that had been running annually
since 1780. From there, Clark went on to Paris, France, where in 1863, a group of racing enthusiasts had formed the
French Jockey Club and had organized the Grand Prix de Paris, which at the time was the greatest race in France.
Returning home to Kentucky, Clark organized the Louisville Jockey
Club for the purpose of raising money to build quality racing facilities just outside of the city. The track would soon become
known as Churchill Downs, named for Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.'s relatives, John and Henry Churchill, who had provided the
land for the racetrack. Officially, the racetrack was incorporated as Churchill Downs in 1937.
The Kentucky Derby was first run at 1½ miles (2.4 km), the same distance
as the Epsom Derby. In 1896, the distance was changed to its current 1¼ miles (2 km). On May 17, 1875, in front
of an estimated crowd of 10,000 people, a field of 15 three-year-old horses contested the first Derby.
Although the first race meet proved a success, the track ran into financial
difficulties and in 1894 the New Louisville Jockey Club was incorporated with new capitalization and improved facilities.
Despite this, the business floundered until 1902 when Col. Matt Winn of Louisville put together a syndicate of businessmen
to acquire the facility. Under Winn, Churchill Downs prospered and the Kentucky Derby then became the preeminent stakes
race for three year old Thoroughbred horses in North America.
Other Interesting Timeline Facts
Between 1875 and 1902, African-American jockeys
won 15 of the 28 runnings of the Kentucky Derby.
May 11, 1892, African-American jockey Alonzo
"Lonnie" Clayton, age 15, became the youngest rider to win the Derby.
In 1904, the race was won by Elwood,
the first Derby starter and winner owned by a woman, Laska Durnell.
In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win
the Kentucky Derby (of only three in the history of the race).
In 1917, the English bred colt "Omar Khayyam"
became the first foreign-bred horse to win the race.
On May 3, 1952, the first national television
coverage of the Kentucky Derby took place, aired from then-CBS affiliate WHAS.
In 1954, the purse exceeded $100,000 for the
In 1968, Dancer's Image became the first (and
to this day the only) horse to win the race and then be disqualified after traces of phenylbutazone, an analgesic and anti-inflammatory
drug, were found in the horse's urinalysis. Forward Pass won after a protracted legal battle by the owners of Dancer's
Image (which they lost). Forward Pass thus became the Eighth winner for Calumet Farm. Unexpectedly, the regulations
at Kentucky Thoroughbred race tracks were changed some years later, allowing horses to run on phenylbutazone.
In 1973, the fastest time ever run in the Derby
(at its present distance) was set at 1 minute 59 2/5 seconds when Secretariat broke the record set by Northern Dancer in 1964.
Not only has Secretariat's record time stood for 38 years and counting, but in the race itself, he did something unique in
Triple Crown races: each successive quarter, his times were faster. Though times for non-winners were not recorded,
in 1973 Sham finished second, two and a half lengths behind Secretariat in the same race. Using the thoroughbred racing convention
of one length equaling one-fifth of a second to calculate Sham’s time, he also finished in under two minutes. Another
sub-two minute finish, only the third, was set by in 2001 by Monarchos at 1:59.97.
Since 2002, Norman Adams has been the designer
of the Kentucky Derby Logo.
The 2004 Derby marked the first time that jockeys,
as a result of a court order, were allowed to wear corporate advertising logos on their clothing.
In 2005, the purse distribution for the Derby
was changed, so that horses finishing fifth would henceforth receive a share of the purse; previously only the first four
finishers did so.
On February 1, 2006, the Louisville-based fast-food
company Yum! Brands, Inc. announced a corporate sponsorship deal to call the race "The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands."
In 2007, HM Queen Elizabeth II, on a visit to
the United States, joined the racegoers at Churchill Downs.
In 2010 Calvin Borel set a new record, being
the first jockey to win 3 out of 4 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.