Kentucky Derby

Horse Racing Peaks with the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, US

In the American horse racing occasion of the year, the Kentucky Derby, in Louisville, Kentucky, US, will be run on the 7th of May in 2016.

The Kentucky Derby, presented by YUM! Bands, is a top rank, Grade I stakes horse racing event for 3 year old thoroughbreds. The race distance is one and one-quarter miles long, and it is run on the dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, US. Colts and geldings in the race carry 126 pounds, 57 kg, and fillies in the race carry 121 pounds or 55 kg.

Twenty horses compete in the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, US, which is a larger field size than most horse races, where on generally only about eight horses take part in a horse racing event. The 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby must first travel along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which is a series of 35 races taking place at tracks across the country and the world. Points are awarded to the top 4 horses that finish in each of those 35 races, and the 20 horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby race in Louisville, Kentucky, US. The Kentucky Derby winning purse is $2 million.

Kentucky Derby Traditions

The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May every year, hence the date of May 7 in 2016, and typically draws a crowd of 155,000 people. It is the longest continually held sporting event in America, and is considered by Americans to be one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Often referred to as ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’, the Kentucky Derby receives this nickname from the approximate length of time it takes the winner to run from the starting gate to the finish line. The Kentucky Derby is the first race within the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race.

Pure Derby Legend

Colonel Matt Winn is widely regarded as the man who saved the Kentucky Derby and its home at Louisville, Kentucky, US. In 1902, Churchill Downs was struggling financially and was in danger of closing, so Colonel Winn took over and implemented a number of changes, including renovations to the clubhouse, modifications to the wagering system, and revolutionary changes in the way the Derby was promoted.  Winn is often credited as the man who gave the Derby its ‘aura of romance’.

As long ago as 1970, Diane Crump became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby.  As of 2015, no woman trainer or jockey has won the Derby, and only six women have ridden in it. Perhaps the greatest horse in American history was the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Secretariat ran the fastest Derby with a time of 1:59.40.  To put that in perspective, 2015’s Derby and Triple Crown winner, American Pharaoh, finished the track in 2:03.02.

Horse racing history is set to be made, again, when the 142nd Kentucky Derby is run in 2016. As all eyes turn to Louisville, Kentucky, US, again as the sporting world once again enjoys the most exciting two minutes in sport.