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which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?

which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?

which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?

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which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?
which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?

Kentucky Derby, the most prestigious American horse race, established in 1875 and run annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs racetrack, Louisville, Kentucky. With the Preakness Stakes (run in mid-May) and the Belmont Stakes (early in June), it makes up American Thoroughbred racing’s coveted Triple Crown.

The Derby field is limited to three-year-olds and, since 1975, to 20 horses; fillies carry 121 pounds (55 kg) and colts 126 pounds (57 kg). The race distance was reduced in 1896 from 1.5 miles (about 2,400 metres) to its present 1.25 miles (about 2,000 metres). In the early 21st century it was one of the most popular single-day spectator events in the world, attracting some 150,000 spectators to Churchill Downs annually.

Beginner’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby

which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?
which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?

The Kentucky Derby is restricted to 3-year-old racehorses, male or female, so a Thoroughbred is eligible for the race only once in their lives. Horses must be nominated to the Triple Crown and then qualify for the Kentucky Derby through a series of races that award points to the top four finishers. The Kentucky Derby field is restricted to 20 runners.

Three fillies (female 3-year-old racehorses) have won the Kentucky Derby: Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980), and Winning Colors (1988).

WHAT: The ‘Run for the Roses’

The Kentucky Derby is often called the run for the roses because the winner has a blanket of roses draped over his/her back after the race. As mentioned above, the Kentucky Derby is only for 3-year-olds and limited to 20 starters. The race itself is a 1 ¼-mile race on a dirt main track that is a test of both speed and stamina.

The oldest continuously held major sporting event in the U.S., the race also is commonly referred to as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”

WHEN: The First Saturday in May

The Kentucky Derby is held every year – well, every year when the world is not in the midst of a pandemic – on the first Saturday in May. From 1946 through 2019, the race was held on the first Saturday of the month of May until COVID-19 in 2020 forced the postponement of the race until September. The Kentucky Derby returned to its usual place on the calendar in 2021 and this year’s 147th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be held on May 1.

The race has been held outside the month of May only three times: Monday, April 29, 1901; Saturday, June 9, 1945; and Sept. 5, 2020. The Kentucky Derby has been run on a Saturday on 108 occasions and each day of the week except Sunday. The last time it wasn’t staged on a Saturday was 1910.

WHY: Inspired Abroad

which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?
which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?

The history of the Kentucky Derby originates in 1872, when the aforementioned Meriwether Lewis Clark traveled to Europe and attended the Epsom Derby in England, a race run since 1780, and met members of the French Jockey Club. Inspired by his trip and experience in Europe, he set out to create a similar racing event in the U.S.

Gifted the land to develop a racetrack and, after formally organizing the Louisville Jockey Club, Clark and his new club raised the funding to build Churchill Downs in Louisville. On May 17, 1875, the track opened its gates for the first time and the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the inaugural Kentucky Derby. Fifteen 3-year-old Thoroughbred racehorses competed in the 1 ½-mile race in front of approximately 10,000 fans with Aristides prevailing.

In the years since that first running, the Kentucky Derby has evolved and become the most important event on the racing calendar as well as the main focus of horse racing fans every spring, a time when 3-year-old racehorses frequently mature mentally and develop physically into elite athletes.


With five Kentucky Derby wins apiece, jockeys Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack share the record for most Derbies won over the course of a career. Though the Derby is often called “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” only two horses have officially finished the race in under two minutes.

The course record was set in 1973 by Secretariat, who finished in 1:59 2/5. (The runner-up in that race, Sham, finished two and a half lengths behind Secretariat, which some observers believe meant that he also broke two minutes, but only winners’ times were then recorded.) The second horse to surpass the two-minute mark was Monarchos, who won the 2001 Derby in a computer-timed 1:59.97.

The largest margin of victory for a Derby winner is eight lengths, which has been achieved four times, most recently by Assault in 1946. Trainer Ben Jones’s record of six Kentucky Derby wins—most of them for Calumet Farm, which won eight Kentucky Derbies between 1941 and 1968—was surpassed by Bob Baffert in 2021. The greatest upset in Derby history occurred in 1913, when Donerail won at odds of 91–1. The first filly to win the Kentucky Derby was Regret in 1915; Genuine Risk (1980) and Winning Colors (1988) are the only other fillies to have won.


The history of horse racing in Louisville predates Kentucky’s admission to the United States, in 1792, by about a decade: from at least 1783, problems associated with open racing in the downtown area led city leaders to promote the construction of formal racetracks. Particularly influential in the history of Louisville racing was Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson of legendary explorer William Clark.

In 1872 Clark traveled to Europe, where he met the foremost figures in horse racing there and developed the idea of establishing a jockey club in Louisville to sponsor races and highlight the city’s champion racing stock. In 1874 he established a racetrack on land owned by his uncles, John and Henry Churchill, for whom the track would eventually be named.

The track officially opened on May 17, 1875, and the first Derby (one of four races at the track that day) was won by Aristides. The track’s famed grandstand, completed in 1895, is crowned by twin spires that have become a recognized emblem of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs.

which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?
which city hosts the kentucky derby each year?


Over the years the Kentucky Derby became not just the leading American horse race but a broader cultural festival as well. Tens of thousands of Kentuckians and visitors annually flock to Churchill Downs to partake in the various galas, dinners, and other social events that come with each Derby weekend. Among the long-standing Derby traditions are the drinking of mint juleps (an iced cocktail consisting of bourbon, mint, and sugar), the wearing of ornate hats by female spectators, and the raucous partying that takes place in the track’s infield.

The popular Derby nickname “Run for the Roses,” coined by sports columnist Bill Corum in 1925, is reflected in the blanket of red roses draped over the victorious horse after the race, a tradition that dates to at least 1932. The tradition of playing Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home” as the horses enter the track also dates to the 1930s.

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Winners of the Kentucky Derby are provided in the table.

The Kentucky Derby
year horse jockey
*The initial winner, Dancer’s Image, was disqualified.
**Fastest time—1 min 59 2/5 sec.
***The initial winner, Maximum Security, was disqualified.
1875 Aristides O. Lewis
1876 Vagrant B. Swim
1877 Baden-Baden W. Walker
1878 Day Star J. Carter
1879 Lord Murphy C. Shauer
1880 Fonso G. Lewis
1881 Hindoo J. McLaughlin
1882 Apollo B. Hurd
1883 Leonatus W. Donohue
1884 Buchanan I. Murphy
1885 Joe Cotton E. Henderson
1886 Ben Ali P. Duffy
1887 Montrose I. Lewis
1888 Macbeth II G. Covington
1889 Spokane T. Kiley
1890 Riley I. Murphy
1891 Kingman I. Murphy
1892 Azra A. Clayton
1893 Lookout E. Kunze
1894 Chant F. Goodale
1895 Halma J. Perkins
1896 Ben Brush W. Simms
1897 Typhoon II F. Garner
1898 Plaudit W. Simms
1899 Manuel F. Taral
1900 Lieut. Gibson J. Boland
1901 His Eminence J. Winkfield
1902 Alan-a-Dale J. Winkfield
1903 Judge Himes H. Booker
1904 Elwood F. Prior
1905 Agile J. Martin
1906 Sir Huon R. Troxler
1907 Pink Star A. Minder
1908 Stone Street A. Pickens
1909 Wintergreen V. Powers
1910 Donau F. Herbert
1911 Meridian G. Archibald
1912 Worth C.H. Shilling
1913 Donerail R. Goose
1914 Old Rosebud J. McCabe
1915 Regret J. Nolter
1916 George Smith J. Loftus
1917 Omar Khayyam C. Borel
1918 Exterminator W. Knapp
1919 Sir Barton J. Loftus
1920 Paul Jones T. Rice
1921 Behave Yourself C. Thompson
1922 Morvich A. Johnson
1923 Zev E. Sande
1924 Black Gold J.D. Mooney
1925 Flying Ebony E. Sande
1926 Bubbling Over A. Johnson
1927 Whiskery L. McAtee
1928 Reigh Count C. Lang
1929 Clyde Van Dusen L. McAtee
1930 Gallant Fox E. Sande
1931 Twenty Grand C. Kurtsinger
1932 Burgoo King E. James
1933 Brokers Tip D. Meade
1934 Cavalcade M. Garner
1935 Omaha W. Saunders
1936 Bold Venture I. Hanford
1937 War Admiral C. Kurtsinger
1938 Lawrin E. Arcaro
1939 Johnstown J. Scout
1940 Gallahadion C. Bierman
1941 Whirlaway E. Arcaro
1942 Shut Out W.D. Wright
1943 Count Fleet J. Longden
1944 Pensive C. McCreary
1945 Hoop Jr. E. Arcaro
1946 Assault W. Mehrtens
1947 Jet Pilot E. Guerin
1948 Citation E. Arcaro
1949 Ponder S. Brooks
1950 Middleground W. Boland
1951 Count Turf C. McCreary
1952 Hill Gail E. Arcaro
1953 Dark Star H. Moreno
1954 Determine R. York
1955 Swaps W. Shoemaker
1956 Needles D. Erb
1957 Iron Liege W. Hartack
1958 Tim Tam I. Valenzuela
1959 Tomy Lee W. Shoemaker
1960 Venetian Way W. Hartack
1961 Carry Back J. Sellers
1962 Decidedly W. Hartack
1963 Chateaugay B. Baeza
1964 Northern Dancer W. Hartack
1965 Lucky Debonair W. Shoemaker
1966 Kauai King D. Brumfield
1967 Proud Clarion R. Ussery
1968* Forward Pass I. Valenzuela
1969 Majestic Prince W. Hartack
1970 Dust Commander M. Manganello
1971 Canonero II G. Avila
1972 Riva Ridge R. Turcotte
1973** Secretariat R. Turcotte
1974 Cannonade A. Cordero, Jr.
1975 Foolish Pleasure J. Vasquez
1976 Bold Forbes A. Cordero, Jr.
1977 Seattle Slew J. Cruguet
1978 Affirmed S. Cauthen
1979 Spectacular Bid R. Franklin
1980 Genuine Risk J. Vasquez
1981 Pleasant Colony J. Velasquez
1982 Gato del Sol E. Delahoussaye
1983 Sunny’s Halo E. Delahoussaye
1984 Swale L. Pincay
1985 Spend a Buck A. Cordero, Jr.
1986 Ferdinand W. Shoemaker
1987 Alysheba C. McCarron
1988 Winning Colors G. Stevens
1989 Sunday Silence P. Valenzuela
1990 Unbridled C. Perret
1991 Strike the Gold C. Antley
1992 Lil E. Tee P. Day
1993 Sea Hero J. Bailey
1994 Go For Gin C. McCarron
1995 Thunder Gulch G. Stevens
1996 Grindstone J. Bailey
1997 Silver Charm G. Stevens
1998 Real Quiet K. Desormeaux
1999 Charismatic C. Antley
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus K. Desormeaux
2001 Monarchos J. Chavez
2002 War Emblem V. Espinoza
2003 Funny Cide J. Santos
2004 Smarty Jones S. Elliott
2005 Giacomo M. Smith
2006 Barbaro E. Prado
2007 Street Sense C. Borel
2008 Big Brown K. Desormeaux
2009 Mine That Bird C. Borel
2010 Super Saver C. Borel
2011 Animal Kingdom J. Velazquez
2012 I’ll Have Another M. Gutierrez
2013 Orb J. Rosario
2014 California Chrome V. Espinoza
2015 American Pharoah V. Espinoza
2016 Nyquist M. Gutierrez
2017 Always Dreaming J. Velazquez
2018 Justify M. Smith
2019*** Country House F. Prat
2020 Authentic J. Velazquez
2021 Medina Spirit J. Velazquez


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