The 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2017. What’s been coined as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” is a 1 &1/4-mile Grade I stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds. The Kentucky Derby is the first race in the Triple Crown series and the most popular stakes race in North America. As we gear up for “the run for the roses” on that first Saturday in May, here are ten things that you probably didn’t know about the Kentucky Derby.
1. The Oldest Continuously Held Sporting Event
The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously held sporting event in the United States. While it’s the youngest of the triple crown events, the Kentucky Derby has run continuously without interruption since its founding in 1875.
2. Key Kentucky Derby Prep Races
There are 19 Kentucky Derby Prep races, and a few have produced more Kentucky Derby winners than others. Both the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and the Champagne Stakes at Belmont produced 23 Kentucky Derby winners.
3. Close Kentucky Derby Races
Several Kentucky Derby races have been won by the slimmest of margins. Nine races, the most recent in 1996, were won by a nose. Seven races, most recently in 1997, were won by a head.
4. High Stakes Race
The Kentucky Derby has a $2 million guaranteed purse, and there have been some high-stakes wagers on this race. The highest recorded was $133.1 million in 2013 when 12/1 odds “I’ll Have Another” beat the favorite.
5. Check Your Horse’s Name
There are even odds of winning the Kentucky Derby tied to a horse’s name. 19 Kentucky Derby winners had names that started with an “S,” 13 with “B,” and 12 with a “C.” No horse has ever won the race with a name that starts with Q, X, or Y.
6. Female Jockeys in the Kentucky Derby
While we haven’t seen a winning female jockey in the Kentucky Derby yet, there have been six women who have competed in eight runnings of the Kentucky Derby. The best finish to date was by Rosie Napravnik, who placed 5th on Mylute in 2013.
7. Kentucky Derby Track Condition
Some horses perform better under certain track conditions, while others are more versatile. This matters in a stakes race like the Kentucky Derby. Historically, the race has provided 99 runnings on a fast track, 12 on a good track, and seven each on either a muddy or sloppy track.
8. Kentucky Derby Attendance
If you want to go to the Kentucky Derby, you can expect to rub elbows with as many as 150,700 other horse racing fans. The record was set in 2015, with 170,513 in attendance. Just the infield alone holds upwards of 80,000 spectators.
9. Number of Horses in the Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 horses, and this has been the case since 1975. The most horses ever in the race was 23 in 1974. The smallest Kentucky Derby races had just three starters, in 1892 and again in 1905.
10. Jockeys with Multiple Kentucky Derby Wins
There are two jockeys that are tied with five wins a piece: Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack. Bill Shoemaker has four wins. Most recently, Victor Espinoza has three wins, the last in 2015 on American Pharoah.
Think you’re ready to school your friends on the Kentucky Derby? Get yourself ready with more Kentucky Derby Trivia and fun facts before the big race on May 6th!