10 Amazing Facts About the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is the longest-running sports event in the world. It started on May 17, 1875, at Churchill Downs Racetrack, Louisville, Kentucky. Due to its long history, it has featured a lot of breathtaking actions on the track, attracting more spectators every year.

Other than showcasing the 20 magnificent three-year-old thoroughbreds annually, the Run for the Roses is also loved by horseracing fans because of some fantastic facts about the race.

The Kentucky Derby

Let’s learn some of these points and how they make the Kentucky Derby one of the most impressive sports events ever.

Official Cocktail Drink

The Kentucky Derby’s official cocktail drink is Mint Julep. You can have one of the 120,000 mint juleps served in the Churchill Downs every year. This large number of drinks requires 1,000 pounds of fresh mint, 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Cocktail, and 60,000 pounds of crushed ice.

They come in fashionable cups with the names of Kentucky Derby champions that you can bring home as a souvenir of the event.

Run for the Roses

The Kentucky Derby is dubbed “Run for the Roses” because of the roses’ significance in the event. Ben Brush, the 1896 Kentucky Derby champion, was given a garland of pink and white roses. In the following years, the winning horse will be awarded a garland of 564 red roses, other than the gold trophy.

Biggest Longshot

With 91-1 odds, Donerail was the biggest longshot in the history of the Kentucky Derby. Thomas P. Hayes trained the bay colt. McGee sired him out of Algie M. Donerail’s trainer didn’t expect Donerail to win the race, and neither did the audience and the experts horse racing prediction. He only wants a portion of the purse once Donerail finishes the race. However, the bay colt far exceeded the expectation and became the longest longshot in the history of the Kentucky Derby.

Best Jockey

Two jockeys are tied in the top rank for the winningest rider in the Kentucky Derby. Eddie Arcaro and Billie Hartack have five wins each.

Arcaro’s winning horses are the following: Hill Gail (1952), Citation (1948), Hoop Jr. (1945), Whirlaway (1941), and Lawrin (1938). Meanwhile, Hartack mounted Kentucky Derby champions, namely Majestic Prince (1969), Majestic Prince (1969), Decidedly (1962), Venetian Way (1960), and Iron Liege (1957).

Winningest Trainer

Ben Jones and Bob Baffert are tied for first place as the winningest jockey in the Kentucky Derby. Both trainers have six horses who won the Run for the Roses. Ben Jones had Citation, a Triple Crown series titleholder.

The other five horses he trained were Hill Gail (1952), Ponder (1949), Pensive (1944), and Lawrin (1938). He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1958 and the Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame in 1971.

Meanwhile, Baffert has trained Authentic (2020), Justify (2018), American Pharoah (2015), War Emblem (2002), Real Quiet (1998), and Silver Charm (1997). American Pharoah and Justify were both Triple Crown Series champions.

With these wins, he was inducted into the Lone Star Park Hall of Fame in 2007, the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame in 2009, and the IFHA World’s Best Racehorse in 2015 and 2016.

Fillies in the Derby

The Kentucky Derby also accepts three-year-old fillies in the competition. While female horses are believed to perform poorly than colts in racing, three fillies have conquered and won the Kentucky Derby. These fillies were Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980, and Winning Colors in 1988.

Winningest Post Positions

While the post position isn’t considered a factor affecting a race’s outcome, many think that positions 5 and 10 are the luckiest numbers in the Kentucky Derby. The 5th position yielded ten winners, while the tenth position had nine.

Best Female Jockey

In the history of the Kentucky Derby, only six female jockeys have participated in the race. These six female riders are Patti Cooksey, Andrea Seefeldt, Diane Crump, Julie Krone, Rosie Napravnik, and Rosemary Homeister. Rosie Napravnik was the female jockey with the biggest Kentucky Derby accomplishment, with a fifth-place finish with Mylute in 2013.

Kentucky Derby Trophy

The Kentucky Derby trophy is average when it comes to its size. However, the Run for the Roses trophy is made of pure 14-karat gold. It weighs 3.5 pounds and stands 22 inches tall.

Fastest Horse

Secretariat is the fastest thoroughbred who participated in the Kentucky Derby. He is also the record holder when it comes to speed in the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. With a time of 1:59.40, Secretariat won the 1973 Kentucky Derby. He is the first horse to finish the race in under two minutes. He was joined by Monarchos in 2001, with a speed of 1:59.97.


This year is the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby. As an event existing for almost a century and a half, the Run for the Roses has showcased the most outstanding three-year-old thoroughbreds every year. Thus, it has played a crucial role in shaping the American horseracing industry into what it is today— promising and flourishing.

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About the author

Blossom Smith

Hi there! I’m Blossom. I enjoy the simple things in life – a walk through the woods, a cozy blanket, a tasty meal or a good book. When I got married 13 years ago, I was truly clueless in the realm of homemaking.