The first running of the Kentucky Derby was almost 150 years ago and a race with that type of history must have some unique facts to discuss. There are 20 interesting facts that stand out more to me than many others. Some because they are unique, some are amazing, and other are just odd. When looking at Kentucky Derby facts, everything is represented. Let’s look at 20 of the top Kentucky Derby facts of all time as we lead into May and the beginning of the Triple Crown.
Kentucky Derby Facts
1 – The Kentucky Derby is also called “The Run for the Roses” because the winning horse is covered with a handmade garland of roses.
2 – The Derby is also considered “The Greatest Two Minutes In Sports” due to the estimated time it takes to complete the race.
3 – Including World War I, World War II, and the Great Depression, the Kentucky Derby has taken place every year without missing a running.
4 – The race is the first installment in the annual Triple Crown series that also includes the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
5 – There is a limit to the number of horse that can enter the Kentucky Derby. 20 horses compete in the Kentucky Derby each year based on points earned.
6 – The mint julep is the traditional drink at the race.
7 – Over 125,000 mint juleps are served over the course of the Kentucky Derby weekend every year, no wonder it is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
8 – 19 Kentucky Derby winners had names that begin with the letter “S,” making it the most successful winning initial.
9 – Horses whose names start with the letter “Z” have the highest rate of success. Truth be told it is a small sample size.
10 – The winner of the Derby gets a $2 million prize, and six other races with prize money totaling $2.15 million will also be held at Churchill Downs Saturday.
11 – Throughout history of the Kentucky Derby, three winners have been fillies.
12 – Since 1956, the race itself has been preceded by two weeks of events and parties known as the Kentucky Derby Festival.
13 – No Derby has ever been postponed because of bad weather.
14 – The smallest field ever was in 1892, when only three horses competed.
15 – The distance of the race was changed to one and a quarter miles in 1896. It started out as a mile and a half race.
16 – Fittingly the fast time in the history of the Kentucky Derby belongs to Secretariat, who finished in 1:59.40.
17 – The first running of the Kentucky Derby in 1875 saw a former slave as the winning trainer (Ansel Williamson).
18 – Diane Crump became the first female to ride in the Kentucky Derby in 1970.
19 – The youngest winning jockey was Alonzo Clayton, who was 15 years old when he won in 1892.
20 – The oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby was 54 year-old Willie Shoemaker in 1986.