“The fastest two minutes in sports”. For millions of people, those words stand for only one thing, a premier horse race that is also the first leg of the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby is the most well-known horse racing event the world over. Also called “The Run for the Roses”, the Kentucky Derby is an annual horse race held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky that features 20, three-year-old thoroughbred horses in a two-minute, 1 1/4-mile sprint to the finish line. The winner receives a $2 million purse.
Most people know the basics about the Kentucky Derby but there are a lot of interesting facts about the “The Run for the Roses” that few either know or remember from races past. Below are five of them.
1. The Kentucky Derby, run the first week of May, is the first leg of the Triple Crown. The next two legs are the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, held in Baltimore and Elmont, New York, respectively. However, it is the Kentucky Derby that holds the distinction of being the oldest, continually-run horse race in American Horseracing History. The first Kentucky Derby was run in 1875. (www.derbycraze.com/)
2. While using performance-enhancing drugs, or “doping” is frowned upon — and illegal — in all professional sports, horses at the Kentucky Derby are allowed to run while on phenylbutazone, a pain-killer and anti-inflammatory drug. Technically not considered “doping”, it was an issue of debate for many years. In 1968, after winning the Kentucky Derby, Dancer’s Image was disqualified after phenylbutazone was found in his urine. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/05/03/drug-scandal-robbed-dancer-image-168-kentucky-derby-title/)
3. The backdrop of its origins provides a glimpse into the Kentucky Derby’s history. The grandson of William Clark, Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. (a descendant of the famed explorer) who catalyzed the birth of the first Kentucky Derby after attending the Derby, one of England’s premier horse races. Clark’s travels to France, and the subsequent establishment of the Grand Prix de Paris Longchamps, gave Clark the requisite experience to establish the Louisville Jockey Club in 1872, the precursor to the Kentucky Derby. (www.derbycraze.com/in-depth-history-of-kentucky-derby.html)
4. Most people understand that an athletic event of the Kentucky Derby’s stature has a huge economic impact on Kentuckians. The numbers are actually astounding: the regional economy, according to The Washington Post, has an influx of $220 million during the two-week festival that leads up to the actual derby, and Kentucky’s horse industry generates 55,000 jobs with a $3 billion revenue.
5. Lastly, there are some historic numbers of interest. For example, the last horse to garner the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978. The famous speedster, Secretariat, ran the fastest Kentucky Derby in 1973 under two minutes at 1:59 2/5 minutes. Only three fillies have been draped with the signature garland of red roses. In 1915, Regret won, in 1980, Genuine Risk took the gold trophy, and in 1988, Winning Colors crossed the finish line first. Churchill Downs has packed more than 165,000 spectators but usually seats an average of 150,000 at the event, which will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014. (www.derbycraze.com/)
Retrieved April 20, 2014. “Racing for the Roses – History of Kentucky Derby”. 15 February 2014 . http://www.derbycraze.com/in-depth-history-of-kentucky-derby.html
Retrieved April 20, 2014. . “Tenth Race Churchill May 1, 2004”. May 1, 2004. Daily Racing Forum.
Retrieved April 20, 2014. http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/05/03/drug-scandal-robbed-dancer-image-168-kentucky-derby-title/
Retrieved April 26, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/studying-the-kentucky-derby-more-than-a-horse-race/2012/04/30/gIQAEQfvsT_blog.html