We can’t wait to experience the horse racing and historical traditions during the Kentucky Derby, which is held every first Saturday in May and falls on May 4 this year. On the face of it, the Kentucky Derby is just a horse race, however, it has gained legions of fans over the past 147 years that it has been running! As one of America’s oldest sports, the Kentucky Derby is also known as the ‘Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports’. Spectators wear the most elaborate and unique outfits and indulge in a drink of mint julep. The winners of the race are awarded a trophy and prize money, as well as a huge garland of roses that weighs approximately 40 lbs!
History of Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby was first held in Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky in 1875. Not only has the location of the race remained the same over the years but also the date on which it is held. The first Saturday of May is reserved for the races, and this year’s Derby will be taking place on May 1. The week before the main races start is designated for preparing the horses, players, and the crowds, and it is called the Kentucky Derby Week.
The horses, which are three-year-old thoroughbreds, qualify for the Kentucky Derby by competing in races held all over the country. These races are also known as the Road to the Kentucky Derby and the top four competing horses are each awarded Derby qualifying points. Horses with the most qualifying points are entered into the Derby races with the top two spots reserved primarily for the European and Japanese Derby qualifying events.
Kentucky Derby traditions are quite quirky. Many show up to the event and its related activities wearing colorful hats. There’s even a special display of Derby fashion at the Kentucky Derby Museum! Apart from this, people enjoy drinks of mint julep on this day, and it is estimated that around 120,000 mint juleps are consumed. Attendees sing and listen to ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ blaring on the event’s speakers. The Kentucky Derby is considered a local holiday and its sister race, the Kentucky Oaks, taking place a day before the Derby, is also considered a holiday. The Kentucky Oaks is mainly centered around races between three-year-old fillies.
Kentucky Derby timeline
The first Kentucky Derby race is held, and the winner completes 1.5 miles in 2 minutes and 36 seconds.
Due to WW1, the Kentucky Derby is postponed for the first time in history as horses are being reserved for military use.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby races are introduced for the first time, replacing the traditional graded stakes race earning system.
The coronavirus pandemic leads to the Kentucky Derby being postponed for the second time in the history of its continuous running.
Kentucky Derby FAQs
How much does it cost to go to Kentucky Derby?
It’s $85 for general admission on the day of the event until the start of the Derby race.
What food do you serve at a Kentucky Derby party?
The Tastiest Food to Serve at Your Kentucky Derby Party, according to “Town and Country” magazine, is:
- Hot Browns.
- Mint Juleps.
- Pimento Cheese.
- Deviled Eggs.
- Bourbon Balls.
- Beer Cheese.
Who was the fastest horse in Kentucky Derby history?
Secretariat holds the record for the fastest Derby time ever. He clocked in at 1:59.40 at the 1973 Kentucky Derby, a record for the race and the 1 1/4 mile track at Churchill Downs, according to Derby Experiences.
Kentucky Derby Activities
Go to the Kentucky Derby
Every year, hundreds of people turn up to watch the exciting races live. If you can, you should immerse yourself in the experience of the races by going to Kentucky and taking part in the traditions.
Watch the Kentucky Derby
If you can’t make it in person, no need to fret, as the Derby is televised every year. Gather your friends and family, bring out the snacks and the mint juleps, and just enjoy the races in the comfort of your own home.
Read up on the history
There’s much to be learned about the Kentucky Derby and the history attached to it. In addition to the general fanfare surrounding the jockeys and their horses, there are many traditions besides the mint juleps and the hats that you can learn about.
5 Facts About Horses That Will Blow Your Mind
Popular American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse breed is one of the most popular breeds out there as it is preferred by beginners and professionals alike.
The Arabian horse has fewer bones
The Arabian horse breed has one less vertebra than other horse breeds.
Estimating a horse’s age
You can somewhat accurately estimate the age of a horse by counting its teeth.
Generally, horses move in herds as it is safer.
Horses domesticated recently
Cats and dogs were domesticated 14,000 and 8,500 years ago, respectively, but horses were domesticated much more recently, around 3000 B.C.
Why We Love Kentucky Derby
It’s a celebration of excitement
Sometimes we all need something to take our minds off the hustle and bustle of daily life for a little while. The Kentucky Derby has all the right elements of excitement in terms of dressing up, the food, the drinks, and, most importantly, the races.
It’s a celebration of hard work
The jockeys (and their horses) prepare for the tournament for years. From strict diets and sleeping schedules to practice sessions, being so disciplined is the road to success — which can be applied to any field.
It’s a celebration of traditions
Traditions bind society together. And traditions tied with important events not only bring a community together but also add to a community’s identity by helping to define it.
Kentucky Derby dates