Kentucky Derby History 2019 and Important Fact to Note

Kentucky Derby History 2019 and Important Fact to Note.

You may be wondering what Kentucky Derby is?

Derby is a horse race that is usually held annually in some cities in the United States. They are facts about this sport which many don’t know. In this article, we will focus on the history and some facts to know about Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby History

Kentucky Derby History 2019

History of Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby, first held in the year 1875 at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, is the longest-running sports event in the United States. Dubbed the “Run for the Roses,” the Derby features three-year-old thoroughbreds racing a distance of 1.25 miles.

Today, some 150,000 spectators gather annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, sometimes referred to as “the greatest two minutes in sports.” Besides placing bets on horses, Derby fans are famous for drinking mint juleps, singing “Old Kentucky Home” and wearing flamboyant hats.


The Kentucky Derby was started by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of explorer William Clark, of Lewis and Clark Expedition fame. Clark, who was inspired by horse races he’d seen in Europe, raised the money to build Churchill Downs on land donated by his uncles.

In the year 1872, Clark traveled to Europe, where he visited leading horse-racing sites in England and France. He was inspired by England’s Epsom Downs racecourse, home since the year 1780 of the Derby Stakes, a 1.5-mile race for three-year-old horses organized by the 12th earl of Derby and his friends.

Clark returned home to Kentucky, founded the Louisville Jockey Club and raised money to construct a racetrack on land donated by his uncles, Henry and John Churchill. Famed for throwing extravagant parties, Clark envisioned his racetrack as a place where the city’s stylish residents would gather.

On May 17, 1875, some 10,000 people attended the first Kentucky Derby, which featured a field of 15 three-year-old thoroughbreds racing 1.5 miles. The winning horse, Aristides, finished with a time of 2:37.75 and was ridden by Oliver Lewis, an African-American jockey.

Some Facts About Kentucky Derby

♦ Kentucky derby first run: 

The Kentucky Derby was first to run on Monday, May 17, 1875, the first ever day of racing at the track that would become known as Churchill Downs. The Derby, then run at 1 1/2 miles, was the second of four races on the program. Interestingly, another race on the card was for horses of all ages run in one-mile heats (a horse named Fair Play won two of the three heats). The inaugural meet lasted just six days, ending on May 22.

♦ Competitions: 

The Kentucky Derby is, of course, a “spin-off” of the famed Derby Stakes, which was first held in the year 1780 at Epsom Downs outside London, England. Over the years there have been loose connections between the Kentucky version and the original, which is run over 1 1/2 miles on grass.

The first horse to compete in both was Bold Arrangement, who finished second in Kentucky but only 14th at Epsom in the year 1986. In the year 1992, Dr. Devious was shipped from England to compete in the Kentucky Derby by his American owners.

While he could only finish seventh in his first try on dirt, Dr. Devious went back to England the following month and won the Epsom Derby by two lengths.

♦ A noted tradition of Kentucky Derby:

One of the most noted traditions of the Kentucky Derby is its position on the calendar. The first Saturday in May has been Derby’s permanent spot since 1938, but in 1945 the Derby was run on its latest ever date of June 9.

As part of a final push to secure an Allied victory in World War II, racing across the country was banned that year from January until mid- to late-May. In an era when horses raced more frequently, all of the Derby contenders still managed to squeeze in one to three preps in the span of several weeks.

A couple starters even circumvented the ban by prepping in Canada and Mexico earlier in the year.

♦ Kentucky Derby success:

Kentucky Derby success has spanned three generations only twice in the race’s long history. Reigh Count (1928) sired Count Fleet (1943), who in turn sired Count Turf (1951). The other occurrence was Pensive (1944), who sired Ponder (1949), who in turn sired Needles (1956).

The only Kentucky Derby winner to sire more than one Derby winner was Bold Venture (1936), the father of Assault (1946) and Middle ground (1950).

♦ Kentucky Derby winners:

Based on the most current information, the oldest living winner of a Kentucky Derby is Sea Hero, who won in the year 1993 and is 28 years old. Don Combs, the earliest Kentucky Derby-winning trainer still alive, saddled Dust Commander to an upset win in 1970 at age 31. Bill Boland is the earliest Derby-winning jockey alive having ridden Middle ground to victory in 1950 as a 16-year-old apprentice.

So far, we have been able to discuss the history and list the important facts to note about Kentucky Derby.

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