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Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is the first jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown. It is staged at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is over one and a quarter miles (2 km).

The Kentucky Derby is also known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" for its approximate duration, and is also called "The Run for the Roses" for the blanket of roses draped over the winner.

2021 Kentucky Derby Odds

1 14 Essential Quality 2-1
5 1 Known Agenda 5-1
6 15 Rock Your World 5-1
2 9 Hot Rod Charlie 8-1
11 17 Highly Motivated 10-1
10 7 Mandaloun 15-1
8 8 Medina Spirit 15-1
14 11 Dynamic One 20-1
18 16 King Fury 20-1
9 10 Midnight Bourbon 20-1
17 6 O Besos 20-1
7 20 Bourbonic 30-1
13 19 Soup And Sandwich 30-1
3 18 Super Stock 30-1
20 3 Brooklyn Strong 50-1
12 12 Helium 50-1
16 13 Hidden Stash 50-1
19 4 Keepmeinmind 50-1
4 2 Like the King 50-1
15 5 Sainthood 50-1

2021 Kentucky Derby Replay

Re-live the excitement of the 2021 Kentucky Derby and watch Medina Spirit win it's 147th edition. Credits to the video owner

Kentucky Derby Winners

Year Winner Jockey Trainer Owner Distance (miles) Track Condition Time
2021 Medina Spirit John Velazquez Bob Baffert Zedan Racing Stables 1+¼ Fast 2:01.02
2020 Authentic John Velazquez Bob Baffert Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC, Starlight Racing 1+¼ Fast 2:00.61
2019 Country House Flavien Prat Bill Mott Mrs. J.V. Shields Jr., E. J. M. McFadden Jr. and LNJ Foxwoods 1+¼ Sloppy 2:03.93
2018 Justify Mike E. Smith Bob Baffert China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, WinStar Farm 1+¼ Sloppy 2:04.20
2017 Always Dreaming John Velazquez Todd Pletcher MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Teresa Viola, St. Elias, Siena Farm, West Point 1+¼ Wet Fast (sealed) 2:03.59
2016 Nyquist Mario Gutierrez Doug O'Neill J. Paul Reddam 1+¼ Fast 2:01.31
2015 American Pharoah Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert Zayat Stables, LLC 1+¼ Fast 2:03.02
2014 California Chrome Victor Espinoza Art Sherman Steve Coburn & Perry Martin 1+¼ Fast 2:03.66
2013 Orb Joel Rosario Claude McGaughey III Stuart S. Janney III & Phipps Stable 1+¼ Sloppy 2:02.89
2012 I'll Have Another Mario Gutierrez Doug O'Neill J. Paul Reddam 1+¼ Fast 2:01.83
2011 Animal Kingdom John Velazquez H. Graham Motion Team Valor International 1+¼ Fast 2:02.04
2010 Super Saver Calvin Borel Todd Pletcher WinStar Farm 1+¼ Sloppy 2:04.45
2009 Mine That Bird Calvin Borel Bennie L. Woolley Jr. Double Eagle Ranch et al. 1+¼ Sloppy 2:02.66
2008 Big Brown Kent Desormeaux Richard E. Dutrow Jr. IEAH Stables / P. Pompa 1+¼ Fast 2:01.82
2007 Street Sense Calvin Borel Carl Nafzger James B. Tafel 1+¼ Fast 2:02.17
2006 Barbaro Edgar Prado Michael R. Matz Lael Stables 1+¼ Fast 2:01.36
2005 Giacomo Mike E. Smith John Shirreffs Jerry & Ann Moss 1+¼ Fast 2:02.75
2004 Smarty Jones Stewart Elliott John Servis Someday Farm 1+¼ Sloppy 2:04.06
2003 Funny Cide José A. Santos Barclay Tagg Sackatoga Stable 1+¼ Fast 2:01.19
2002 War Emblem Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert Thoroughbred Corp. 1+¼ Fast 2:01.13
2001 Monarchos Jorge F. Chavez John T. Ward Jr. John C. Oxley 1+¼ Fast 1:59.97

Kentucky Derby Records

Here are some noteworthy Kentucky Derby records:

Speed record:

  • Mile and a Quarter: 1:59.4 – Secretariat (1973)
  • Mile and a Half: 2:34.5 – Spokane (1889)

Margin of Victory:

  • 8 lengths – Old Rosebud (1914), Johnstown (1939), Whirlaway (1941), Assault (1946)

Most victories by a jockey:

  • 5 – Eddie Arcaro (1938, 1941, 1945, 1948, 1952)
  • 5 – Bill Hartack (1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1969)
  • 4 – John Velazquez (2011, 2017, 2020, 2021)

Most victories by a horse trainer:

  • 7 – Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015, 2018, 2020, 2021)
  • 6 – Ben A. Jones (1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952)

Most victories by an owner:

  • 8 – Calumet Farm (1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1957, 1958, 1968)

Longest shot to win the Derby:

  • 91 to 1 – Donerail (1913)

History of the Kentucky Derby

Kentucky has been a major center of horse breeding and racing since the late 1700s due to the Ordovician fields of the Bluegrass region, which contains higher than average amounts of calcium and thus produced superior race horses. In 1872, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, traveled to England, visiting the Epsom Derby, a famous race that had been running annually since 1780. From there, Clark went on to Paris, France, where in 1863, a group of racing enthusiasts had formed the French Jockey Club and had organized the Grand Prix de Paris, which eventually became the famous Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Returning home to Kentucky, Clark organized the Louisville Jockey Club for the purpose of raising money to build quality racing facilities just outside of the city. The track would soon become known as Churchill Downs, named for Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.'s relatives, John and Henry Churchill, who had provided the land for the racetrack. Officially, the racetrack was incorporated as Churchill Downs in 1937.

The Kentucky Derby was first run at 1.5 miles (2.4 km), the same distance as the Epsom Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris. In 1896, the distance was changed to its current 1.25 miles (2 km). On May 17, 1875, in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 people, a field of 15 three-year-old horses contested the first Derby. Under African-American jockey Oliver Lewis, a colt named Aristides, who was trained by future Hall of Famer, Ansel Williamson, won the inaugural Derby. Later that year, Lewis rode Aristides to a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

Although the first race meet proved a success, the track ran into financial difficulties and in 1894 the New Louisville Jockey Club was incorporated with new capitalization and improved facilities. Despite this, the business floundered until 1902 when Col. Matt Winn of Louisville put together a syndicate of businessmen to acquire the facility. Under Winn, Churchill Downs prospered and the Kentucky Derby became the preeminent thoroughbred horse race in America.

Between 1875 and 1902, African-American jockeys won 15 of the 28 runnings of the Kentucky Derby. On May 11, 1892, African-American jockey Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton, age 15, became the youngest rider to win the Derby. The 1904 race was won by Elwood, the first Derby starter and winner to be owned by a woman, Laska Durnell. In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby, and in 1917, the English bred colt "Omar Khayyam" became the first foreign-bred horse to win the race.

As part of gaining income, horse owners began sending their successful Derby horses to compete a few weeks later in the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course, in Baltimore, Maryland, followed by the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York. The three races offered the largest purse and in 1919 Sir Barton became the first horse to win all three races. However, the term Triple Crown didn't come into use for another eleven years. In 1930, when Gallant Fox became the second horse to win all three races, sportswriter Charles Hatton brought the phrase into American usage. Fueled by the media, public interest in the possibility of a "superhorse" that could win the Triple Crown began in the weeks leading up to the Derby. Two years after the term was coined, the race, which had been run in mid-May since inception, was changed to the first Saturday in May to allow for a specific schedule for the Triple Crown races.

In 1950, legendary baseball owner and promoter Joe Engel, who managed the Chattanooga Lookouts at Engel Stadium, entered his horse, Hallieboy, who was known only as a laughing-stock underdog, that finished 10th of 14 horses in the race.

On May 3, 1952, the first national television coverage of the Kentucky Derby took place. In 1954, the purse exceeded $100,000 for the first time. In 1968, Dancer's Image became the first (and to this day the only) horse to win the race and then be disqualified after traces of phenylbutazone, an analgesic and anti-inflammatory drug, were found in the horse's urinalysis; ironically, the regulations at Kentucky thoroughbred race tracks were changed some years later, allowing horses to run on phenylbutazone.

The fastest time ever run in the Derby (at its present distance) is 1 minute 59 2/5 seconds, by Secretariat in 1973.

The 2004 Derby marked the first time that jockeys, as a result of a court order, were allowed to wear corporate advertising logos on their clothing.

In 2005, the purse distribution for the Derby was changed, so that horses finishing fifth would henceforth receive a share of the purse; previously only the first four finishers did so.

On February 1, 2006, the Louisville-based fast-food company Yum! Brands, Inc. announced a corporate sponsorship deal to call the race "The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands".

The 2006 edition of the race was won by Barbaro, with jockey Edgar Prado aboard. The winning time was two minutes, 1.39 seconds. He won by 6.5 lengths over second place finisher Bluegrass Cat. Steppenwolfer finished third; Jazil and Brother Derek finished in a dead heat for fourth place. The race was attended by 157,536 fans, the second-largest crowd in Derby history.

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November 22-28 Race Schedule

22 MON 12:30PM Finger Lakes
7:00PM Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort
23 TUE 12:30PM Finger Lakes
12:55PM Delta Downs
6:00PM Penn National
7:00PM Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort
24 WED 12:30PM Finger Lakes
12:55PM Belterra Park
1:00PM Churchill Downs
5:35PM Evangeline Downs
6:00PM Penn National
7:00PM Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort
25 THU 11:15AM Golden Gate Fields
11:30AM Churchill Downs
26 FRI 12:45PM Golden Gate Fields
12:55PM Delta Downs
1:00PM Churchill Downs
5:35PM Evangeline Downs
6:00PM Penn National
27 SAT 12:45PM Golden Gate Fields
12:55PM Delta Downs
1:00PM Churchill Downs
5:35PM Evangeline Downs
28 SUN 12:45PM Churchill Downs
1:00PM Golden Gate Fields
7:00PM Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort


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