The Kentucky Derby is a one and a quarter mile race for three-year-olds. It is also known as “The Run for the Roses” and is normally held on the first Saturday in May each year.

  • Race Type: Grade 1, 3YO Set weights
  • Distance: 1¼ miles (about 2000 metres)
  • Track: Churchill Downs Racecourse, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

The Kentucky Derby began as a race for three-year-olds over 1½ miles in 1875 when it was won by Aristides. The distance was reduced to 1¼ miles in 1896 to make it less strenuous for young horses. It has been held every year since 1875 and is the first leg of the US Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes then the Belmont Stakes. There are a maximum of twenty starters.

It is run on a dirt track and there are many traditions that add to the atmosphere. The traditional drink is a mint julep and as the horses parade before the start the song “My Old Kentucky Home” is played and race goers sing along. The race is known as “The Run for the Roses” as a garland of hundreds of red roses is draped across the winner. In the United States it is also known as the most exciting two minutes in sport.

The 146th Kentucky Derby was rescheduled from May 2, 2020 to September 5, 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Previous winners of the Kentucky Derby:

In the long history of the Kentucky Derby only three fillies have managed to win. These were Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winning Colors in 1988. Until Bob Baffert equalled his record in 2020 and then went to 7 winners in 2021 , the most successful trainer was Ben A Jones who had 6 winners between 1938 and 1952. Jockeys Bill Hartack and Eddie Arcaro each rode 5 winners each, while Bill Shoemaker rode in the Kentucky Derby 26 times for 4 wins (1955, 1959, 1965 and 1986).The fastest ever winner was Secretariat in 1973 in a time of 1 minute 59 2/5 seconds – a record that has stood for nearly 50 years. He broke the previous record set by Northern Dancer in 1964. Northern Dancer was one of the most influential sires in Thoroughbred history and as well as siring many US champions is the great-grandsire of three-time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva and the great-great-grandsire of the undefeated Black Caviar with 25 perfect races. He also appears twice in the pedigree of the undefeated Frankel.

Year Winner Second Third
2024 Mystik Dan Sierra Leone Forever Young
2023 Mage Two Phil’s Angel Of Empire
2022 Rich Strike Epicenter Zandon
2021 Medina Spirit Mandaloun Hot Rod Charlie
2020 Authentic Tiz the Law Mr Big News
2019 Country House Code Of Honor Tacitus
2018 Justify Good Magic Audible
2017 Always Dreaming Lookin At Lee Battle Of Midway
2016 Nyquist Exaggerator Gun Runner
2015 American Pharoah Firing Line Dortmund
2014 California Chrome Commanding Curve Danza
2013 Orb Golden Soul Revolutionary
2012 I’ll Have Another Bodemeister Dullahan
2011 Animal Kingdom Nehro Mucho Macho Man
2010 Super Saver Ice Box Paddy O’Prado
2009 Mine That Bird Pioneer Of The Nile Musket Man
2008 Big Brown Eight Belles Denis Of Cork
2007 Street Sense Hard Spun Curlin
2006 Barbaro Bluegrass Cat Steppenwolfer
2005 Giacomo Closing Argument Afleet Alex
2004 Smarty Jones Lion Heart Imperialism
2003 Funny Cide Empire Maker Peace Rules
2002 War Emblem Proud Citizen Perfect Drift
2001 Monarchos Invisible Ink Congaree
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus Aptitude Impeachment