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Brush Up on the Your Kentucky Derby Facts Ahead of the 2020 Race

September 5th, 2020 will mark the 146th installment of prestigious Kentucky Derby. Like every other year before, the race will take place at Louisville's Churchill Downs Racetrack. Unlike every other year, the race will be done with no fans.


May 17th, 1875 marked the day of the very first Kentucky Derby, held in front of around 10,000 fans on a racetrack just south of Louisville. H.P. McGrath's colt Aristides ridden by jockey Oliver Lewis went on to become the first ever winner, ushering in a 146 year run that has resulted in the Derby being the longest continuous held sporting even in the United States.

Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of William Clark of Lewis and Clark, developed the race along with a group called the Louisville Jockey Club. Clark got his inspiration from studying Thoroughbred racing in Europe and imitated England's Epsom Derby, which was designed for 3-year old Thoroughbreds. Initially the track was a mile and a half in distance before being shortened to one mile and a quarter in 1896, which it stands at today.

In 1894 amid financial hardship, a new group called the New Louisville Jockey Club bought the property and added a grandstand. 1902 brought about another ownership change as Louisville tailor Matt Winn led a group of investors in the purchase.

Winn's promotion and organization turned the Derby into what it is today, an ode to pre-Civil War romanticized culture. The wearing of hats, rose garlands, mint juleps and other traditions began then and continue to this day. Winn also brought in professional athletes and celebrities, adding some glamor to the event. The number of celebrities, athletes, and media coverage has grown since, increasing the prestige.

Since its commencement, the Kentucky Derby has seen many great moments. The first ever race won by a filly (female horse), Regret, happened in 1915. Four years later in 1919, Sir Barton won the Derby, The Preakness Stakes in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes in New York to become the first ever Triple Crown champion.

Last year saw another first in Derby history. Maximum Security finished first in the race but became the first ever horse to be disqualified for interference, culminating in runner-up Country House being named the victor.

Below are some fun facts about Kentucky Derby and its history.

Fun Facts

  • The fastest winning run was by Secretariat in 1973 with a time of 1:59.40.

  • The slowest winning run was by Kingman in 1891 with a time of 2:52.25 (the race was a mile and a half then).

  • Three fillies have won the Derby: Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winning Colors in 1988.

  • There have been 13 Triple Crown winners (winner of the Derby, the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in the same year).

  • Justify was the last Triple Crown winner in 2018.

  • Donerail was the highest odds Derby winner in history, winning in 1913 with odds at 91-1.

  • The largest crowd in Derby history was in 2015 with 170,500 people in attendance.

  • The Derby Trophy is the only gold trophy in major American sports.

  • Horses compete in various "prep" races around the country which are awarded points. The top 20 horses in points then earn the opportunity to compete at the Kentucky Derby.

  • 111 of the 145 races have been won by Thoroughbreds bred in the state of Kentucky.





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