Kentucky Derby Facts

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03: Horses run on the track during morning workouts for the 133rd Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2007 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

  • The Kentucky Derby is the second oldest recorded sporting event that’s still being held in the United States. Only the Travers Stakes at Saratoga is older.
  • In 1973, the legendary Secretariat set the Kentucky Derby record for the fastest running of the 1¼ mile, winning the 99th edition of the race in 1:59 2/5. Secretariat went on to win the Triple Crown – breaking a 25-year spell in which no horse managed this feat.
  • In 1974, an all-time Kentucky Derby record of 163,628 spectators watched Cannonade thunder to victory in the 100th Kentucky Derby.
  • The back of the Kentucky quarter contains an image of a thoroughbred horse.
  • The Kentucky Derby is known as the “Run for the Roses” because of the blanket of 545 red roses traditionally draped over the winner. This tradition started in 1896. For the 1980 running of the Kentucky Derby, famous pop artist Dan Fogelberg composed a song called “Run for the Roses”.
  • The Kentucky Derby is popular with mega celebrities, who are most often spotted in the Millionaire’s Row at Churchill Downs In recent years, some of the celebrities who’ve been seen at the race are Michael Jordan, Steven Spielberg, Larry King, Jessica Simpson, Cuba Gooding Jr, P Diddy, Nicole Richie, Joe Pesci and Donald Trump.
  • The most successful breeder, setting a Kentucky Derby record of nine winners, was Calumet Farm. Calumet Farm winners included Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), Hill Gail (1952), Iron Liege (1957), Tim Tam (1958), Forward Pass (1968) and Strike the Gold (1991). Eight of the Calumet-bred winners were foaled in the same barn near Lexington, Kentucky.
  • A total of 12 Kentucky Derby winners have had the horse Raise A Native in their sire line.
  • Another Kentucky Derby fact – no horse who has won the Breeders Cup Juvenile has ever gone on to win the Run for the Roses.