The Kentucky Derby is one of North America’s most awaited sports events. Its spectators are distributed not just in the U.S. but across the world. It’s the longest-running sports event in America, so it’s no surprise that its patronage has spread around the globe.
Its 2023 season will finally happen this coming May 6, 2023, and spectators are counting the days as we get closer to the event. While we wait for the race day to arrive, let’s discover some things you need to know about the Kentucky Derby.
Loyal horseracing fans know these facts, and it’s time for you to learn about these things too!
The First Kentucky Derby
The first Kentucky Derby happened on May 17, 1875, at the current venue of the race, Churchill Downs Racetrack, Louisville, Kentucky. The founder of the race was Meriwether Lewis Clark. He also started the Louisville Jockey Club. Thoroughbred Aristides with his jockey, Oliver Lewis, won the inaugural race of the Kentucky Derby. They completed the race with an official time of 2 minutes and 37.75 seconds.
Run for the Roses
The official flower of the Kentucky Derby is the rose. E. Berry Wall, a New York socialite, gave roses to the women at a party. This sweet gesture inspired Meriwether Lewis Clark, the founder of the Kentucky Derby, to declare the rose as the race’s official flower.
In 1896, the race winner was awarded a blanket of 554 roses during the awarding ceremony. This has inspired the nickname of the Kentucky Derby.
The Run for the Roses’ traditional cocktail drink is the mint julep. Its ingredients are simple syrup, fresh mint, bourbon, and crushed ice. These drinks are served in fashionable glasses that racegoers can take home as souvenirs. Every year, around 120,000 mint juleps are served in the Kentucky Derby.
The fastest thoroughbred to ever run in the Kentucky Derby is Secretariat. Horse racing fans know this name as one of the greatest in the sport’s history. His iconic win happened in 1973, where he earned an official time of 1:59.40 over a distance of 1 1/4-mile race.
He is the first thoroughbred to finish the Run for the Roses in under two minutes. He also holds the record in the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. This year’s Kentucky Derby is just around the corner, and one of the 2023 Kentucky Derby contenders might be able to break Secretariat’s record.
The Kentucky Derby has a lot of iconic underdogs who became victors in the race, but Donerail’s win remains the most unforgettable. He was sent to the Run for the Roses with 91-1 odds. For every $2 bet, $184.90 was paid to the speculator. Donerail was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 1963.
The Kentucky Derby boasts the most fashionable racegoers in the world. Besides the Royal Ascot, the Run for the Roses is also an event where guests pay attention to what they wear. Gentlemen are expected to dress in formal suits and pants, while ladies are expected to wear bright and stylish dresses.
Of course, oversized hats are staples in a woman’s outfit. The dress code isn’t that strict, but racegoers are always happy to oblige.
Kentucky Derby Trophy
The Kentucky Derby’s officialtrophy presented to the winner isn’t that grand on the exterior. However, the trophy is actually made of pure 18-karat gold. It has horseshoe-shaped handles, which are handcrafted. It weighs 56 ounces and stands 22 inches tall.
Winningest Post Position
Since 1900, the number 5 position has produced the most winners in the Kentucky Derby. It has produced a total of 10 Kentucky Derby champions. The most recent one is Always Dreaming, back in 2017.
Best Jockey in the Race
Bill Hartack and Eddie Arcaro are the two riders with the most wins in the Kentucky Derby. Each jockey has won five races. Arcaro’s winning horses were Lawrin in 1938, Whirlaway in 1941, Hoop Jr. in 1945, Citation in 1948, and Hill Gail in 1952. Hartack’s winning mounts are Iron Liege in 1957, Venetian Way in 1960, Decidedly in 1962, Northern Dancer in 1964, and Majestic Prince in1969.
Male jockeys typically dominate the Run for the Roses, but female riders have also crashed boundaries and conquered the race with flying colors. Six female jockeys have competed in the Kentucky Derby. They are Diane Crump, Andrea Seefeldt, Patti Cooksey, Julie Krone, Rosie Napravnik, and Rosemary Homeister. Rosie Napravnik was the top rider on the list. Napravnik mounted Pants on Fire in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and placed ninth in the race.
Racing fans have patronized Kentucky Derby for almost a century and a half. With its long history, many iconic milestones and unforgettable actions happened in the Churchill Downs Racetrack. All these have contributed to the rich traditions observed in every season of the Run for the Roses.