Did You Know?

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 25, 2010 in Educational Articles, Kentucky Derby | 4 Comments >>

Everyone who enjoys sports has heard of the Derby.  It is called by many names, and is attended by people from all walks of life. It is the pageantry, the energy, and the thundering hooves that last 400 yards that makes everyone a racing fan for two minutes every year.

There are many stories and facts about the Derby, and I wanted to put some down for you so that this week will mean a little more when they break from the gate.

  • It is known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”
  • “The Run for the Roses” blanket is draped across the winner in the winner’s circle that is used once a year.
  • The Kentucky Derby is the second longest running horse race in America. The Travers Stakes at Saratoga began in 1864, and the Derby kicked off in 1875.
  • Col. Merriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of the Lewis and Clark expedition, traveled to England for the Epsom Derby which began in 1780. Clark originated the Louisville Jockey Club, which would be soon named Churchill Downs after his relatives John and Henry Churchill.
  • Between 1875 – 1902, African-American jockeys won 15 of the first 28 runnings. Alonzo Clayton (15 years-old) became the youngest to win the Derby.
  • Regret was the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby in 1915.
  • Derby participants must be three-years-old, and no runner since Apollo in 1882 have won without running at two-years-old.
  • May 3, 1952 was the first national televised Derby.
  • The fastest time was set in 1973 by Secretariat, with a time of 1:59 2/5.
  • The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Derby, and burgoo is the offical dish.
  • The University of Louisville plays “My Old Kentucky Home” by Stephen Foster as the horses take to the track.
  • Longest shot to win was Donerail at $92.40 – 1.
  • Most wins by a jockey – 5 by Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack, and 6 wins for trainer Ben A. Jones.

There is no feeling like being there. For the many who watch from around the world, and for those who are on hand, there will not be one dry eye in the place when the band cranks up “My Old Kentucky Home.” I have to admit that my big green eyes tear up yearly as I remember my many Derby days. I remember my dad introducing me to the game. How he took me to get my first wager on deck. How my grandpa loved the game. How every neighbor on the street used to come to the house to give my dad their wagers to do business with his bookie. The first winner I have ever had in the race, and how every fan knows who won the year they were born. Mine was Kauai King ridden by Don Brumfield. The way nobody was allowed to speak as the song was played on my black and white family TV. The jubilant party if you won, and the throng of excuses if you lost. The way you feel as they load into the gate. The way you feel as you remember those that were here last year, and how they are missed now.  The Derby is more than just a race. It is an event, a ritual, a rite of spring…