Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Traditionally, it takes place on the first Saturday of May. It is thus the first-held of the three annual races that constitute the Triple Crown for thoroughbreds in the United States. (The two other races are the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.)

Kentucky Derby

About the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds.

Also known as: The Run for the Roses

Inaugurated: 1875

Normally held on: The first Saturday in May

Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Current track: Churchill Downs

Track surface: Dirt

Track direction: Left-handed

Distance: 11⁄4 miles (10 furlongs) since 1897. Prior to 1897, the distance was 1 ½ mile.

Number of horses: Since 1975, the field has been limited to 20 horses.

Weights: Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds,  fillies carry 121 pounds

Trophy: The  Kentucky Derby Trophy

The Governor of Kentucky awards a garland and the Kentucky Derby Trophy.

The Kentucky Derby Festival

The Kentucky Derby is the high-point of the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The festival is usually started with an airshow and fireworks display known as Thunder Over Louisville.

Betting on the Kentucky Derby

It is very popular to bet on the Kentucky derby and nearly all sportsbetting websites offer odds on the derby.  Most online sportsbook offers a wide selection of different bets that you can make.   One of the best sites for betting on the kentucky derby is the Bet365 sportsbook.  Bet365 offer a wide selection of bets and great odds.

Records

Speed records

The speed record for the current length, which is 1 ¼ miles, is held by Secretariat who completed this distance in 1:59:4 at the 1973 Kentucky Derby.

For the earlier distance of 1 ½ mile, the record is held by Spokae, who completed this distance in 2:34:5 at the 1889 Kentucky Derby.

Largest margin of victory

The largest margin of victory in the Kentucky Derby is eight lenghts. This has happened four times so far: in 1914 for Old Rosebud, in 1939 for Johnstown, in 1941 for Whirlaway, and in 1946 for Assault.

Most victorious jockey

This is a tie between Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack, as both of them have won the Kentucky Derby five times each. Araco won in 1938, 1941, 1945, 1948, and 1952. Hartack won in 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, and 1969.

Most victorous trainer

For a long time, this record has been held by the trainer Ben A. Jones, who trained the horses who won the derby in 1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, and 1952. In 2020, the trainer Bob Baffert reached the same number, so there is now a tie between Jones and Baffert. Horses trained by Baffert won the derby in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2015, 2018, and 2020.

Most victorious owner

This record is held by Calumet Farm, who owned the horses that won the derby in 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1957, 1958, and 1968.

Traditions

Roses

The winning horse is traditionally draped in a blanket made from 554 roses. The tradition of the rose blanket dates back to the late 19th century; the first recorded account of draping roses on the derby winner is from 1896.

Because of this tradition, the Kentucky Derby is also known as The Run for the Roses.

The song “Run for the Roses” was released in 1980, composed and performed by singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg.

My Old Kentucky Home

After the Call to the Post, the horses parade before the grandstands. During the parading, the University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band plays Stephen Foster´s “My Old Kentucky Home”. This tradition goes back to 1921.

Riders Up!

“Riders Up!” is the traditional command from the Paddock Judge for jockeys to mount their horses. Since 2012, the command has been given by a celebrity.

Mint julep

The mint julep is the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby. It is a drink containing bourbon, fresh mint, sugar syrup, and crushed ice, and it is served in an ice-frosted julep cup or glass. Souvernir derby glasses have been available since 1939.

Burgoo

Burgoo is served not only at the Kentucky Derby, but also during the qualifying rounds at Keeneland Racecourse. Burgoo is a thick stew, usually made from both beef, pork and chicken.