The Kentucky Derby has a lengthy history as the longest running sporting event in the United States. It dates all the way back to 1875, when 15 thoroughbred horses raced 1.5 miles in front of 10,000 spectators for the very first Kentucky Derby.
Now, the Kentucky Derby is an event that is not only attended by thousands each year, including many A-list celebrities, but also an event that is watched by millions at home. Many get involved with the two-minute race each year, while watching, throwing parties or placing bets.
Read more on the history of the Kentucky Derby.
- What is the history behind the Kentucky Derby?
- Where is the Kentucky Derby located?
- What are notable traditions of the Kentucky Derby?
- How many horses run in the Kentucky Derby?
- Why do people wear big hats to the Kentucky Derby?
7 SECRETS OF KENTUCKY DERBY RACEHORSES
1. What is the history behind the Kentucky Derby?
The Kentucky Derby was started by the grandson of William Clark of Lewis and Clark.
Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. kicked off the Kentucky Derby, according to the Kentucky Derby website. He was inspired to bring a horse racing event to the United States after visiting the Epsom Derby in England, which started in 1780.
With the help of his uncles, John and Henry Churchill who gifted him the land for the racetrack, he brought his vision to life.
Clark raised funds through a group called he started called Louisville Jockey Club. In 1875, 10,000 people gathered to watch the first ever Kentucky Derby which was won by Aristides, according to the site.
KENTUCKY DERBY TRAVEL GUIDE FOR A LOUISVILLE GETAWAY
2. Where is the Kentucky Derby located?
The Kentucky Derby is located at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. This has been the location of the derby since its beginning, although it has been renovated over the years.
3. What are some traditions of the Kentucky Derby?
Through the many years it has been a popular event, numerous traditions have stepped in to stay including the presence of roses.
The race is often referred to as the “Run for the Roses.” The red rose has been the official flower of the races since 1904, according to the Kentucky Derby website. The winning horse is draped with a garland made of the flower.
Another tradition of the Kentucky Derby is the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home,” which is played nearly every year at the derby by the University of Louisville Marching Band, according to the Kentucky Derby website.
DELIGHTFUL KENTUCKY DERBY DRINKS
Of course, guests are cloaked in extravagant hats and outfits and the mint julep is a popular cocktail served.
Nearly 120,000 mint julep cocktails are sold during Kentucky Derby weekend, according to the site.
Lastly, millions of bets are placed on the horse race each year.
4. How many horses run in the Kentucky Derby?
Each year, 20 horses race in the Kentucky Derby, according to the event’s website. The horse race used to be 1.5 miles long, but is now a 1.25-mile race.
In order to earn a spot in the derby, the horse has to be a seasoned racer. There are 35 races that take place across the country which are known as the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” according to the site. The top four horses in each of the races receive points. At the end of the races, the 20 horses with the most points gain entry into the Kentucky Derby.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
5. Why do people wear big hats to the Kentucky Derby?
If you have ever seen photos or video clips from the Kentucky Derby, you’re likely aware of the enormous hats worn by attendees.
Some say the hats bring good luck, while others say it keeps the sun out of your eyes when watching, but mostly, it’s due to the event being one of high-class, and high-fashion.
Dating all the way back to the beginning, Clark envisioned the Kentucky Derby as an event for the upper-class as were the events that he attended in Europe, according to the event’s website.
Fashion quickly became a staple of the Kentucky Derby and the huge or unique hats, in particular, became a statement accessory.