Everything You Need To Know About The Kentucky Derby


May 4th, 2019

Welcome back have a great Kentucky Derby!

Kentucky Derby:

  • 1874 – Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark forms the Louisville Jockey Club and acquires land for racetrack from his uncles John & Henry Churchill.
  • 1875 – The first Kentucky Derby race takes place on May 17th. Aristides races 1.5 miles to win, in a field of fifteen horses, in front of a crowd of 10,000 spectators.
  • 1883 – Leonatus wins the Derby, and the name “Churchill Downs” is first used to landmark the racetrack that is the home of the Kentucky Derby.
  • 1889 – Bookmakers demand that Colonel Clark remove pari-mutuel betting machines, because they are cutting into the bookmakers profits. Spokane wins the Derby.
  • 1894 – Due to the growing crowd size, a 285-foot grandstand is constructed to accommodate race fans. Chant wins the Derby.
  • 1895 – The famed Twin Spires greet the Kentucky Derby crowd, on May 6th. Halma wins the Derby.
  • 1896 – It is thought that the distance of the Derby race is too long for three year old Thoroughbreds that early in the spring, so the distance of the Derby race is shortened from one and a half miles to one and a quarter miles. Ben Brush wins the Derby, and he receives a floral arrangement of white and pink roses.
  • 1899 – Founder of the Kentucky Derby, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, commits suicide on April 22, 1899, just twelve days before the 25th running of the Kentucky Derby, where Manuel wins.
  • 1903 – Now under the leadership of Colonel Matt J. Winn, the racetrack celebrates its first profit after the Kentucky Derby on May 2nd where Judge Himes wins the race.
  • 1904 – The red rose becomes the official flower of the Kentucky Derby and Elwood wins the race.
  • 1908 – The use of pari-mutuel wagering machines is restored, and bookmakers are outlawed. The Derby day crowd bets a total of $67,570 of which $18,300 is placed on the Derby race alone. Stone Street wins the Derby.
  • 1911 – The minimum bet is reduced from $5 to $2, and a betting booth is introduced. Two men are stationed in a booth to receive fans’ bets – one sells the wagering ticket, and the other operates a clicker to account for the number of tickets sold. Meridian wins the Derby.
  • 1913 – The fees to enter a horse in the Derby and the Derby winning prize money are restructured. The new charges are $25 to nominate a horse for the Kentucky Derby and $100 for the horse to actually run in the race. With those collected fees, plus Churchill Downs adding $5,000 to the purse, the winning horse receives $5,475. Donerail wins the Derby, and becomes the longest shot to win. He pays $184.90 to win bets, $41.20 to place bets, and $13.20 to show bets.
  • 1914 – Old Rosebud wins the Derby and sets a new track record, finishing the race in 2:03:04 and eight lengths ahead of the second place finisher.
  • 1915 – For the third consecutive year, the Kentucky Derby splashes the news, as the first filly, Regret, wins the race. This publicity establishes the Kentucky Derby as a premier sporting event in America, after its 41st running.
  • 1919 – Sir Barton wins the Derby and is also the first winner of what would become the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. In the span of just 32 days, Sir Barton won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, the Withers Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
  • 1922 – Mor Vich wins the Derby and, in addition to the winning purse, he receives a gold buffet service piece including a cup and candlesticks. The prize is valued at $7,000 and is the first Derby presentation of its kind. 1924 – Black Gold wins the 50th running of the Kentucky Derby, and he receives a trophy, exactly like the one presented today.
  • 1925 – The first network radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby takes place on May 16th, with about 5 to 6 million listeners tuning in to hear Flying Ebony win the Derby. Also, notable in the year, the phrase “Run for the Roses®” is coined by Bill Corum, a sports columnist for the New York Evening Journal and the New York Journal – American.
  • 1930 – Gallant Fox wins the Derby, and the term Triple Crown is officially used by the New York Times to describe his combined wins in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
  • 1931 – The Kentucky Derby is permanently scheduled for the first Saturday in May, as opposed to an undetermined date in mid-May. The move was largely due to the popularity of the idea of a Triple Crown winner, and allowed for a consistent racing schedule for horses that would participate in the three races – The Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness Stakes, followed by the Belmont Stakes.
  • 1932 – Despite the Great Depression, the Kentucky Derby race continues to take place and has much to celebrate. The race is internationally broadcast, reaching England’s British Broadcasting Company, and the winner, Burgoo King, is the first Kentucky Derby winner to be draped in a garland of red roses.
  • 1938 – A tunnel is constructed under the racetrack that connects the grandstand, spectator seats to the field inside the racetrack, called the “infield”. Admission is 50 cents to enjoy the Derby from the infield. Lawrin wins the Derby and he is the first to take to a stand built in the infield for the official presentation to the Kentucky Derby winning horse.
  • 1943 – Regardless of the war-time travel restrictions from World War II and no out-of-town tickets sold to the Kentucky Derby, 65,000 fans gather at Churchill Downs to see Count Fleet easily defeat the field at 2-5 odds.
  • 1949 – The 75th Kentucky Derby is locally telecast for the first time, and Ponder wins the Derby.
  • 1952 – The public exposure of the Kentucky Derby is expanded with the first national live television coverage in its history. An estimated 10 to 15 million viewers tune in to watch Hill Gale win the Derby.
  • 1954 – The Kentucky Derby winning purse exceeds $100,000, and Determine is the horse to cash in.
  • 1966 – The famed “Millionaires Row” dining room is introduced, and Kauai King wins the Derby.
  • 1968 – Dancer’s Image is the first Derby winner to be disqualified. Following the race, Dancer’s Image tested positive for an illegal medication, so the purse is taken from him, and awarded to the second-place finisher Forward Pass, who is declared the winner.
  • 1970 – Diane Crump is the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby race. Crump finished 15th out of 18 horses in the field; and even though her Derby race wasn’t a win, she brought women to the forefront of horse racing. Dust Commander wins the Derby.
  • 1973 – In the 99th running of the Kentucky Derby, Secretariat wins with the fastest finishing time to date. Secretariat completed the race in 1:59:40, and went on to win the Triple Crown, for the first time in 25 years.
  • 1974 – The second largest crowd in the history of U.S. Thoroughbred racing watches Cannonade win the 100th Derby. There were a total of 163,628 fans at Churchill Downs to watch the race, which also had a record large field size of 23 horses.
  • 1977 – Seattle Slew wins the Kentucky Derby and goes on to win the Triple Crown. He is the 10th Triple Crown winner, and the only horse to take that title while also undefeated.
  • 1978 – Affirmed wins the Kentucky Derby and goes on to win the Triple Crown.
  • 1984 – The Kentucky Derby is simulcast at 24 racetracks across the nation, allowing those racetracks to live wager on the Kentucky Derby race. A North American record is set for wagering on a single race, at $18,941,933. Swale wins the Derby.
  • 1985 – The Kentucky Derby Museum is opened on the grounds of Churchill Downs Racetrack just one week before the Kentucky Derby is run. The museum’s mission was, and still is, to continue to preserve the history and to share the fun of the Kentucky Derby experience. Spend A Buck wins the Derby.
  • 1986 – The home of the Kentucky Derby race, Churchill Downs Racetrack, is formally placed on the register of National Historic Landmarks. Ferdinand wins the Derby.
  • 1988 – Winning Colors wins the Derby, she is only the third filly in racing history to capture the Kentucky Derby win.
  • 1995 – Thunder Gulch wins the Derby, when the purse is increased to $1 million.
  • 1996 – The Kentucky Derby general admission price is raised to $30; it was only 50 cents when it was first opened in 1938. Grindstone wins the Derby.
  • 1999 – The Kentucky Derby celebrates its 125 running, and Charismatic wins the race. This is the first year Kentucky Derby fans are able to place Future Wagers. The Future Wager allows fans to bet on contenders leading up to the Derby race, when the odds are higher and there is an opportunity to win more money if the contender wins.
  • 2000 – This year marked the third century in which the Kentucky Derby was run; Fusaichi Pegasus wins the Kentucky Derby.
  • 2004 – The Kentucky Derby winner is Smarty Jones, and he is later featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
  • 2006 – Barbaro wins the Kentucky Derby, by six and a half lengths; the largest victory since 1946. Barbaro was injured just weeks later in the Preakness Stakes, and passed away after complications of that injury. He was a Kentucky Derby fan favorite, and a bronze statue is placed above his remains at the entrance of Churchill Downs Racetrack.
  • 2012 – The 138th Kentucky Derby was a record-setting year. I’ll Have Another wins the race in front of the highest attended Kentucky Derby of 165,307 fans. Wagering also set a record, with $133.1 million wagered on the Kentucky Derby race across all-sources.
  • 2015 – American Pharoah wins the Kentucky Derby and goes on to win the Triple Crown. He breaks a Triple Crown drought lasting over 30 years.
  • 2018 – Justify wins the Kentucky Derby and continues on to clinch the Triple Crown. He is the last horse to date to win the Triple Crown.


1.Kentucky Derby history.

  • The Kentucky Derby, presented by Woodford Reserve, is a top rank, Grade I stakes race for 3 year old Thoroughbred horses.
  • The race distance is one and one-quarter miles long, and it is run on the dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May every year.
  • The Kentucky Derby is often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”
  • The history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby is rich in traditions like sipping a mint julep, donning a beautiful hat, and joining fellow race fans in singing “My Old Kentucky Home” which transcend the Kentucky Derby from just another sporting event,
  • The Run for the Roses draws a crowd of 155,000 people on average.
  • The Kentucky Derby is the first race within the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race.
  • Colts and geldings in the race carry 126 pounds (57 kg), and fillies in the race carry 121 pounds (55 kg).
  • 20 horses compete in the Kentucky Derby, which is a larger field size than most horse races.
  • The 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby must first travel along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which is a series of 35 races taking place at tracks across the country and the world.
  • Points are awarded to the top 4 horses that finish in each of those 35 races, and the 20 horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby race.
  • The Kentucky Derby winning purse is $2 million.

2. Derby News

  • The 145th Run for the Roses takes place Saturday at Churchill Downs, with a post time of 6:46 p.m. ET.
  • Last year $149.9 million was bet on the Kentucky Derby.
  • Churchill Downs added an $8 million on-site equine medical center as part of several other measures to improve safety for horses and riders.
  • Omaha Beach is out of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. The morning-line favorite was scratched with an entrapped epiglottis.
  • Haikal won’t run in the Kentucky Derby because of an infection in his left front foot, reducing the field to 19 horses.
  • Game Winner is now the 9-2 favorite, followed by Improbable and Roadster at 5-1 — giving Baffert the top three choices in the field as he looks for his sixth Derby victory, a feat that would tie Ben Jones atop the all-time list.
  • Maximum Security will be the 29th undefeated horse to enter the Run for the Roses. Maximum Security, who is 4-for-4 in his career, was listed as an 8-1 fourth choice when the new morning line came out Wednesday night but has been largely overlooked in the week-long build-up to the Derby.
  • Tacitus is the points leader in the Derby qualifying series. Tacitus is regally bred, trained by a master in Bill Mott and closed stoutly to win both the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial. His running style might lend itself to traffic trouble, but he’s certainly good enough.
  • Race officials said Friday that Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith has picked up the mount on 30-1 shot Cutting Humor, trained by Todd Pletcher. The 53-year-old rider had been on the early 4-1 favorite, Omaha Beach, until that colt was scratched because of a breathing problem.
  • In Kentucky, “meadow muffins” are pretty much a dime a dozen. So it takes something special to make one worth $200. Yep, you read that right: $200 for horse poo.
  • U.S., gambling winnings are taxable as ordinary income irrespective of how much a person wins. Gambling winnings are legally defined as the full amount of the winnings minus the cost of placing the winning bet.
  • Gambling losses are deductible as an itemized deduction. Unless someone is a professional gambler, however, the amount of losses they can deduct is limited to the amount of their winning.
  • Joe Drape’s win-place-show picks: Tacitus, Roadster, Improbable
  • Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Improbable, Game Winner, Tacitus


3. The Run for the Roses


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Photo: (

War of Will

War of Will is a son of hot Sire War Front and out of the Sadler’s Wells dam Visions of Clarity (IRE). The family line is very strong with this bay colt. Starting his racing career at Woodbine in Canada, the Southern campaigns have proven more fruitful for the Mark Casse trainee.


Tax improved from a third place finish in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, with a first place win in the Withers Stakes. Having traveled over the Churchill Downs surface to place second and eventually break his maiden at Keeneland in his second start, the bay gelding by Arch shows growing potential on the Kentucky Derby Trail. Tax is ridden by jockey Junior Alvarado and trained by Danny Gargan.

By My Standards

By My Standards has been training up to the 145th Kentucky Derby off a 22-1 upset score in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds in late March. The bay colt was making his stakes bow in that nine-furlong affair after breaking his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths in his fourth try one race prior. By My Standards is the first Kentucky Derby runner for his trainer, Bret Calhoun, who saddled the son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) king Goldencents to a runner-up effort at Churchill Downs in his debut last November. Campaigned by Allied Racing Stable LLC, the Kentucky-bred colt is out of dual stakes winner A Jealous Woman.

Gray Magician

Gray Magician stamped his ticket to Kentucky Derby 145 thanks to a runner-up effort in the U.A.E. Derby (G2) in Dubai. The Peter Miller-trained colt is still seeking a first stakes win and only brings a maiden victory from last November at Del Mar into the Run for the Roses. The gray son of Graydar boasts three stakes tries: the aforementioned U.A.E. Derby, a second in the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park and a fourth-placing in Santa Anita Park’s Sham Stakes (G3) to kick off his sophomore season in early January.


Improbable is a student of dual Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert. With some of the same connections as Justify in owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and Starlight Racing. Undefeated in three starts, with a win in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, the West Coast based chestnut colt did win the Street Sense across the Churchill Downs dirty track. This is a promising sign that he could be a horse for the course when time comes to potentially enter the starting gates for the Kentucky Derby.


Vekoma is by Candy Ride (ARG) out of the Las Flores H. and Humana Distaff winner Monda De Momma by Speightstown. Vekoma is trained by George Weaver and has a solid record of hitting the board with wins in his first start, the Nashua S. and most recently the Blue Grass Stakes. His only non winning placement was a third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Maximum Security

Maximum Security is by lightly raced sire New Year’s Day, who suffered an injury two months after taking the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and was retired to stud. The bay colt wired the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park to earn 100 points and give trainer Jason Servis another shot at Kentucky Derby (G1) glory following Smarty Jones’ 2004 victory. Maximum Security was making his stakes bow in the Florida Derby and moved his record to a perfect four-for-four for owners Gary and Mary West. The Kentucky-bred moved up the ranks from a maiden claimer to Grade 1 fame in very short time, something his dam, Lil Indy, was never able to accomplish. Lil Indy was no slouch in the pedigree department, though, being by Anasheed and a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire and sire Flat Out.


Tacitus is a gray homebred of the impressive Juddmonte Farms and out of 2014 Champion Older Mare Close Hatches. Close Hatches finished 2nd to Beholder in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Tacitus’ pedigree suggests minimal concerns with the ability to hit the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles and his racing record shows he is on a roll in putting pieces together. With a win in two Derby prep races, the Wood at Aqueduct and the Tampa Bay Derby in Florida, he demonstrates a lot of upside to watch for while breezing at the track.

Plus Que Parfait

Trainer Brendan Walsh will be saddling his first Kentucky Derby runner when sending out Plus Que Parfait on the first Saturday in May. The chestnut ridgling awarded his conditioner with this opportunity by earning his first stakes victory in the U.A.E. Derby (G2) at Medyan in Dubai. Plus Que Parfait picked up 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in that Middle Eastern venture and added it to the four points he garnered last November as a two-year-old when finishing second by a neck in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs. By Point of Entry, who racked up five Grade 1 victories and nearly $2.5 million in earnings on the turf, Plus Que Parfait is campaigned by the Dubai-based Imperial Racing LLC.

Cutting Humor

Cutting Humor is one of two runners in the 2019 Kentucky Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher. The Starlight Racing colorbearer captured the Sunland Derby (G3) in New Mexico to earn his spot in the Derby starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Prior to that contest, the dark bay son of First Samurai made his stakes debut an off-the-board finish in the Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.

Code of Honor

William S. Farish homebred Code of Honor has ping-ponged between talented and mediocre for trainer Shug McGaughey, who claimed his first Kentucky Derby win in 2013 with Orb. Code of Honor broke his maiden at Saratoga and ran second in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in his two juvenile starts, but was a lackluster fourth in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park to open his sophomore campaign in January. Remaining at that South Florida venue, the chestnut son of multiple Group 1 winner Noble Mission pulled away to a nice win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) before finishing a well-beaten third in the Florida Derby (G1) last out. Code of Honor receives distance and turf influence from his sire while his dam, Reunited, was a Grade 3 winner sprinting on the main track.

Win Win Win

Win Win Win began his journey to the Kentucky Derby (G1) in January, taking the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by 7 1/4 lengths. The Michael Trombetta pupil proceeded to add a third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and second in Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes (G2) to his record. The dark bay son of Hat Trick will be competing at Churchill Downs for the first time in the Run for the Roses and brings Julian Pimentel along for the ride.

Master Fencer

Master Fencer was invited to take part in Kentucky Derby 145 after competing in the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Koichi Tsunodra trainee has never raced outside of his native Japan but boasts a pair of wins as well as a second in the Fukuryu Stakes in his most recent effort. The chestnut is by Just a Way and gets the services of jockey Julien Leparoux in his first U.S. start.

Game Winner

Game Winner is a bay colt by Candy Ride out of the A.P. Indy mare Indyan Giving. He remains undefeated in three lifetime starts, as of Oct 1, 2018, which includes stakes wins in the Del Mar Futurity and the American Pharoah Stakes. Trained by Bob Baffert and currently ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, the West Coast based Thoroughbred has strong potential entering the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.


Speedway Stable LLC’s Roadster catapulted into Kentucky Derby contention with a nice half-length victory over stablemate and champion Game Winner in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) for trainer Bob Baffert. Owned by Speedway Stable LLC, the gray son of 2009 Florida Derby (G1) hero Quality Road enters the Run for the Roses boasting a two-for-two mark on the year and 4-3-0-1 career line. His only loss to date came as a third behind Game Winner in last September’s Del Mar Futurity (G1), but the Kentucky-bred has been unbeatable since stretching out past that seven-furlong trip. Roadster is out of the stakes-winning Ghost Dancing and is a half-brother to Grade 1-scoring and track record-setting gelding Ascend.

Long Range Toddy

Long Range Toddy is by accomplished dirt runner Take Charge Indy. Trained by Steve Asmussen, he has settled in a nice circuit between Remington Park and Oaklawn Park. With wins in the Clever Trevor and Springboard Mile Stakes, the latter of whic his a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep-race, he further advanced into the Smarty Jones Stakes and showing gradual improvement. He may be a rising star among his other barn mates and worth a watch along the Kentucky Derby trail.


Lightly raced Spinoff has yet to finish off-the-board in his four lifetime races and is one of two entrants in Kentucky Derby 145 for trainer Todd Pletcher. The chestnut son of Hard Spun broke his maiden first out at Gulfstream Park last June before running third in the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) to close out his juvenile campaign. Spinoff romped by 11 lengths in an allowance/optional claimer to open his sophomore season in February and enters the Run for the Roses off a close second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.

Country House

Country House has faced several of his Kentucky Derby (G1) rivals in his past three races. The Bill Mott-trained son of Lookin at Lucky broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in January and made his stakes debut in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. Following a runner-up effort in that contest, Country House ran fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in New Orleans and then shipped to Oaklawn Park for a third-place effort in the Arkansas Derby (G1).


Bodexpress just drew into the Kentucky Derby (G1) field after entering the race on the also-eligible list. The Gustavo Delgado trainee will attempt to break his maiden in the Run for the Roses, as he’s yet to cross under the wire first in five races. His last pair saw the bay son of Bodemeister just miss in a maiden by a neck and finish second in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.


4. NFL players hang out together at the Derby!

Photo: (TMZ)

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 06:  Tom Brady attends the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Churchill Downs)

Photo: (Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

  • TB12 is a regular at the Derby, so is his coach, Bill Belichick.
  • Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman, former Pats center Dan Koppen and ex-New England long snapper Lonnie Paxton were present as well.


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