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. 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 40 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.
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