The history of the Kentucky Derby

The history of the Kentucky Derby

Written by AI

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious and popular horse races in the United States and the world. It is held annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and it is the first leg of the American Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. The race is also known as “The Run for the Roses” because of the garland of roses that is awarded to the winner.

The history of the Kentucky Derby dates back to 1875, when it was founded by Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Clark was inspired by his visits to England and France, where he witnessed the Epsom Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris, two famous horse races. He decided to create a similar event in his home state of Kentucky, and he formed the Louisville Jockey Club and Driving Park Association to raise funds for building a racetrack.

The first Kentucky Derby was held on May 17, 1875, and it attracted a crowd of about 10,000 spectators. The race was won by Aristides, a chestnut colt ridden by Oliver Lewis, an African American jockey. The race was 1.5 miles long, but it was shortened to 1.25 miles in 1896 to make it more suitable for American horses. The race has been run at this distance ever since.

The Kentucky Derby has witnessed many memorable moments and achievements throughout its history. Some of the most notable ones are:

– In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby, beating a field of 15 colts.
– In 1919, Sir Barton became the first horse to win the Triple Crown, which consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
– In 1933, Brokers Tip won the Kentucky Derby by a nose in a photo finish with Head Play, in what is known as “the fightin’est finish” in Derby history.
– In 1941, Whirlaway became the fifth Triple Crown winner and set a new track record of 2:01.40 for the Derby.
– In 1954, Determine became the first gray horse to win the Derby.
– In 1964, Northern Dancer became the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Derby and set a new track record of 2:00.00.
– In 1973, Secretariat became the ninth Triple Crown winner and set a new world record of 1:59.40 for the Derby, which still stands today.
– In 1986, Ferdinand became the first horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is considered the richest race in North America.
– In 1988, Winning Colors became the third filly to win the Derby and the first to do so since Regret in 1915.
– In 1997, Silver Charm became the first horse to win both the Dubai World Cup and the Kentucky Derby, two of the most lucrative races in the world.
– In 2004, Smarty Jones became the first undefeated horse to win the Derby since Seattle Slew in 1977.
– In 2009, Mine That Bird pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Derby history by winning at odds of 50-1 from post position 8.
– In 2015, American Pharoah became the twelfth and most recent Triple Crown winner and also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, becoming the first horse to complete the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing.
– In 2018, Justify became the thirteenth Triple Crown winner and only the second undefeated horse to do so after Seattle Slew.
– In 2020, Authentic won the Derby in front of empty stands due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.