Ten Things You Should Know: Kentucky Derby
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
2) The Kentucky Derby is the most famous race in the U.S. and the one most sought after by many of the big name American owners, trainers, and jockeys.
3) The inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 was modeled after the Epsom Derby, which had been run in England since 1780. Like its modern equivalent, the Epsom Derby is restricted to 3-year-olds.
4) The original distance of 1 ½ miles was changed to the current distance of 1 ¼ miles in 1896.
5) The race has been run in May since its founding and moved to its current spot on the racing calendar on the first Saturday in May since 1932.
6) Col. Matt Winn is credited with making the Derby the most famous race in America. He, along with a group of business partners, purchased Churchill Downs in 1902. In 1908, he was able to stave off political reformers intent on ending gambling and racing at Churchill.
7) The current stakes record is held by the great Secretariat, who finished the 1 ¼ miles in 1:59.40. The only other colt to finish the Derby in under two minutes came in 2001 when Monarchos stopped the clock in 1:59.97
8) Three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby: Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980, and Winning Colors in 1988. Historians have pointed to Regret’s win as the edition of the race that put it on the national map.
9) The mighty Calumet Farms owned a record eight Derby winners. The first was Triple Crown winner Whirlaway in 1941 and the last was 1968’s winner, Forward Pass. Forward Pass actually finished second in the race but was awarded the victory when the winner, Dancer’s Image, failed a post-race drug test. The disqualification has been a source of controversy ever since.
10) Jockeys Bill Hartack and Eddie Arcaro both won five Derbies during their career. Bill Hartack won his five in a twelve-year span from 1957 to 1969. His first came aboard Iron Liege and his last on Majestic Prince.