10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Kentucky Derby

Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports

On Saturday, May 2 the Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky as it has for the past 140 years since 1875. There’s a ton of amazing history behind the race known as “The Run for the Roses” ranging from certain drinks to wild attire. Let’s take a look at 10 facts you probably weren’t aware of before Saturday’s running of the Kentucky Derby.

1. The Kentucky Derby is the only Triple Crown race that has run consecutively since it began

The Preakness Stakes took a hiatus between 1891-93 while the Belmont Stakes took one from 1911-12 due to anti-gambling legislation imposed by the state. Meanwhile the Kentucky Derby has run continuously since its inception in 1875 with no interruptions. 

2. The biggest underdog to ever win the Kentucky Derby was Donerail at 91/1

In 1913 Donerail shocked the horse racing world and won the 39th running of the Kentucky Derby. If your great great grandfather happened to bet $2 dollars on Donerail that would have have netted him $184.90. Not a bad return on investment. 

derby3 10 Things You Didnt Know About The Kentucky Derby

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

3. The Kentucky Derby was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.

According to Churchill Down’s website, Col. M Lewis Clark Jr. founded Churchill Downs racetrack after traveling to England and coming up with the idea of a Louisville Jockey Club. After following through with the idea and building Churchill Downs to house his club’s races, the track finally opened in 1875. That year there were four races run at the track, one of which was the now historic Kentucky Derby. 

More>> CBS Local Sports’ complete Kentucky Derby Preview

4. The fastest winning time ever was recorded by Secretariat

In 1973, legendary racehorse Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby with a time of 1:59:40, becoming the only horse in the race’s nearly 100-year history to clock in at under two minutes. In 2001, Monarchos would become just the second horse to break the two-minute mark, but he failed to break Secretariat’s record by just over half a second.

5. The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby

The Mint Julep, which consists of Kentucky bourbon and mint, has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938 and has only risen in popularity. According to the Kentucky Derby’s website, over 120,000 mint juleps are served each year at the Kentucky Derby and the majority of them are served in a souvenir Kentucky Derby glass.

mint julep2 10 Things You Didnt Know About The Kentucky Derby

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

6. The Kentucky Derby is actually the youngest of the Triple Crown races

Even though the Derby is the most heralded of the three races, the Derby is the youngest of the bunch. The Derby was first run in 1875 while the Preakness Stakes was first run in 1867 and the Belmont Stakes was run in 1873.

7. The youngest jockey to ever win the Derby was 15 years old

In 1892 Alonzo Clayton, an African American from Kansas City, Missouri, bested the field and won the Derby at 15 years of age. Clayton was considered one of the top young jockeys around in the late 1800s and early 1900s until racism became more prevalent and unfortunately limited opportunities for African American jockeys to ride in races. 

8. The slowest winning time ever recorded was by Kingman 

In the early days of the Derby, the “Fastest Two Minutes In Sports” moniker wouldn’t really have worked. Most of the time the winner finished with a time close to 2:30:00, but Kingman and the rest of the field really took their time getting around the track in 1912. Kingman won the Derby with a record slow time of 2:52:25 – nearly a full minute slower than most winners in the current Derby era. 

9. The most money ever wagered on the race was $133.1 million dollars in 2012

In 2012, 12/1 shot I’ll Have Another beat out the favorite Bodemeister in front of a record crowd of 165,307 people.

derby 22 10 Things You Didnt Know About The Kentucky Derby

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

10. Most wins by a jockey in Derby history is five

Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack are tied for the record with five Derby wins a piece. Arcaro won his five Derby’s between 1938 and 1952 while Hartack did so between 1957 and 1969. 

More from Bryan? You can email him or find him on Twitter @bcaltman. 

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