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Kentucky Derby Fast Facts


Here’s a look at the Kentucky Derby. The Derby is traditionally run on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

May 1, 2021 – Medina Spirit wins the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby. The 3-year-old brown colt was trained by the legendary Bob Baffert, who becomes the winningest trainer in the history of the Derby with his seventh victory. Just over a week later, Baffert reveals the horse has tested positive for elevated levels of betamethasone, throwing the horse’s victory into question. On June 2, the results of the horse’s positive post-race drug test are confirmed, according to Baffert’s attorney Craig Robertson.

September 5, 2020 – The 146th Kentucky Derby takes place. Authentic wins the race. The race was originally scheduled for May 2, but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.


The Derby is the first race in horse racing’s coveted Triple Crown, which also includes the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

The race is known as “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate run time. The Derby is also referred to as “The Run for the Roses” due to the garland of 554 red roses draped over the winner.

Competing horses are 3 years of age.

The mint julep is the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.

Approximately 120,000 mint juleps are served annually during the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.

Only three fillies have won the Derby: Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980) and Winning Colors (1988).

No Derby has ever been postponed or canceled because of rain or bad weather.


May 17, 1875 – The first Kentucky Derby is held. The winner is Aristides, a 3-year-old chestnut colt, beating 14 other horses.

1892 – Only three horses run the race, making it the smallest field ever for a Kentucky Derby.

1896 – The race distance is reduced from 1.5 miles to its present 1.25 miles.

1925 – NY Journal-American writer Bill Corum coins the phrase “run for the roses.”

1945 – The race is postponed to June 9 due to a horse racing ban during World War II.

May 3, 1952 – The Kentucky Derby is televised nationally for the first time.

1956 – The first Kentucky Derby Festival is held. This annual event runs for the two weeks preceding the actual races.

1968 – Dancer’s Image wins but fails a drug test and is disqualified. Second-place finisher Forward Pass is named the winner.

1973 – Secretariat wins with a time of 1:59 minutes, setting the record for the fastest time.

May 3, 2008 – Shortly after winner Big Brown crosses the finish line, second place finisher Eight Belles suffers fractures in both front legs and falls to the ground. Due to the severity of the injuries, the filly is euthanized on the track.

May 5, 2018 – The 144th Kentucky Derby sets a record as the wettest in Derby history with 3.15 inches of rain.

May 4, 2019 – The 145th Kentucky Derby takes place. Country House crosses the finish line second but is declared the winner after Maximum Security is disqualified for interference. It is the first time a Derby winner has been disqualified because of a foul on the track.

March 17, 2020 – Churchill Downs confirms that the Kentucky Derby has been postponed from May 2 to September 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen says in a statement, “Throughout the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority has been how to best protect the safety and health of our guests, team members and community.

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