What Makes The Kentucky Derby Special?

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A Brief History

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 Kentucky Derby.  The Derby is the first leg of the American Triple Crown and is followed by the Preakness Stakes, then the Belmont Stakes.

It looks like the latest edition of the Triple Crown Series is underway and about to begin in less than 60 days. The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the grandest Triple Crown Series event succeed by Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The said racing is a showdown of three-year-old thoroughbred horses which had undergone serious physical training to show their best stability, agility, and stamina.

Digging Deeper

Out of the three Triple Crown racing legs, some say that the Kentucky Derby is the most special horse racing compared to Preakness and Belmont. It may sound right because Kentucky is said to have “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports”. It is totally a showcase of the horses’ ability to edge one another as they show off their fastest running ability inside the race track within two minutes.

Now that Kentucky Derby is about to begin on the 4th of May in its hometown in Churchill Downs, a lot of horse racing fans are looking forward to witnessing who would emerge as the early favorite to snatch the Triple Crown this year. But, before you head on and witness the prestigious horse racing show, what makes the Kentucky Derby special compared to other horse racing events in the country? Let’s take a look at some unique reasons below.

Kentucky Derby – America’s Longest Running Sports Show

Churchill Downs in 1901

Out of the three major horse racing event which comprises the Triple Crown Series, Kentucky Derby is said to be the longest running show in the United States since its inauguration on  May 17, 1875. The first Kentucky Derby event was graced by around 10,000 crowds within the dirt track down in 700 Central Avenue, Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky. Since then, the derby has found its permanent home on the said location and even in World War II, it has not changed its setting.

This year will set the 144th edition of the Kentucky Derby and the organizers of the event are expecting around 150,000 people who will fill the seats of the race track on the 4th of May. Actually, the event hasn’t started yet but a lot of Kentucky Derby expert picks have come out to showcase an incredible show on May 4. Game Winner is considered to be one of the early favorites who will debut in Kentucky and possibly be this year’s Triple Crown winner.

A Colorful and Literary History

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports; The Run for the Roses.  The original uploader was Sayeth at English Wikipedia.

The Kentucky Derby has recorded a great literary history because it opened doors to some popular making the derby event to be well-known all over the world. Bill Corum was one of them who even dubbed the Kentucky Derby as “The Run For The Roses”. This is for the reason that the winner of the racing show will be draped with garlands of roses.

Also, way back in 1935, it was the legendary sports writer Grantland Rice who named and described the Kentucky Derby to have “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports”. From then on, the event had embraced these titles and phrases which made a  historic description of every edition of the Kentucky Derby.

It Records Prominent Historical Winners

American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes to become the 12th winner of the US Triple Crown.  Photograph by Mike Lizzi from Nassau County, USA.

The Kentucky Derby is known to have legendary winners ever since it started. In 1973, the fastest-running horse racer which is Secretariat has tallied a historical win showcasing around 59.4 seconds speed in one minute. Until this day, this record hasn’t broken and no horse racer was even close in beating this record.

Also, after long years of waiting, American Pharoah clinched the Triple Crown in 2015. It was an historical win since 1978 when Affirmed was the last racer to hold the said crown. It was then the excitement of this racing had been back where a lot of bettors are now ready to take part this year’s derby.

It is Attended By Rich and Famous Personalities

A thoroughbred horse is depicted on the reverse of the Kentucky state quarter.  Photograph by T. James Ferrell, employee of the US Mint.

The Kentucky Derby does not only attract hundreds and thousands of horse racing fans across the world, but it is also attended by rich and famous personalities all over the world. You can see famous Hollywood stars. Additionally, the Kentucky red carpet is always ready for these stars who will grace the said event adding more excitement and fun for all horse racing fans.

Popular personalities like Lyndon Johnson, the former U.S President, Margaret who is Britain’s Princess, Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer, singer-performer Justin  Timberlake, and other hot celebrities are some of the stars guesting the show.

Now that the Kentucky Derby is around the corner, may horse racing fans are looking forward to witnessing this year’s exciting horse racing showdown. A lot of sports betting fans are excited and looking forward to attending the show. If you are excited about this year’s Kentucky season, the things enumerated above which make the Kentucky Derby special will bring you a whole new level of horse racing experience for your entire existence.

Question for students: Have you ever watched a horse race?  If so, where and when?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Brodowsky, Pamela K. and Tom Philbin.  Two Minutes to Glory: The Official History of the Kentucky Derby.   It Books, 2009.

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The featured image in this article, a photograph of Oliver Lewis, a jockey in the early years of thoroughbred racing, is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.

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