Few sporting events are shrouded in history and tradition as much as the Kentucky Derby. Billed as the “the fastest two minutes in sports,” the Derby began in 1875 and is celebrated each year on the first Sunday in May.
Many horse racing fans make entire weekends out of the Derby, planning their celebrations months in advance of the race. For those who cannot travel to Churchill Downs and attend the race in person, viewing parties are available all over the globe.
The pageantry surrounding the Kentucky Derby is well documented, but the following are a few interesting tidbits about the famed “Run for the Roses®.”
• The Kentucky Derby began when Meriwether Lewis Clark traveled to Europe and attended the Epsom Derby in England. Clark was inspired to create a similar horse racing event in America.
• 2018 marks the 143rd running of the race.
• Each year, roughly 120,000 mint juleps are consumed at Churchill Downs. The mint julep is the traditional drink of the Derby, and it is made with Kentucky bourbon, simple syrup, mint, crushed ice, and powdered sugar.
• Secretariat is the fastest horse in Derby history, crossing the finish line in less than two minutes.
• There have been 19 winning horses in Kentucky Derby history whose names begin with the letter “S”.
• On Derby Day, the infield at Churchill Downs will host 80,000 celebrants.
• The Kentucky Derby race track is 11⁄4 miles, which has been the standard since 1896. The first Derby races were slightly longer, at 11⁄2 miles.
• Male horses win the race more often than females. Of the 40 fillies to compete throughout Derby history, only three have won.
• Elegantly dressed women donning over-the-top hats will grace Churchill Downs for the race. Many begin planning their styles and securing their hats weeks in advance.
• The best finish for a female jockey at the Derby was fifth place. Rosie Napravnik finished fifth while riding Mylute in 2013.
• “The Run for the Roses” refers to the red rose blanket that will be draped over the winner of the Derby.