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Fun Kentucky Derby Facts

The 2019 Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 4, so here are some things you need to know about the 145-year-old event for your Derby party:

  • Nineteen past winners have had names beginning with the letter “S,” including Secretariat, the fastest horse in Kentucky Derby history, who completed the 1973 race in just under two minutes.
  • The amount of food consumed at the Derby is pretty astounding. On average, spectators will eat 142,000 hot dogs, 18,000 barbecue sandwiches, 13,800 pounds of beef, 32,400 jumbo shrimp, 9,000 scallops, 8,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 cookies and 300,000 strawberries.
  • Only three horses raced in the 1892 Kentucky Derby.
  • The traditional drink of the Derby is the mint julep, and over 120,000 are said to be consumed at the race each year.
  • Diane Crump was the first woman jockey to ever ride in the Derby; there has yet to be a female winner, but Shelley Riley came the closest in 1992 when she came in second.
  • The Kentucky Derby trophy only weighs 3-1/2 lbs.
  • The youngest jockey to win the esteemed race, Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, was just 15 come derby day in 1892. Bill Shoemaker continues to hold the title as the oldest winner; he was 54 when he took home the 1986 title.
  • Bill Shoemaker has also ridden the most Kentucky Derby horses (26) in history.
  • The record low temperature at the race (held on the first week of May every year) was 47 degrees in 1935 and 1957. The record high was 94 degrees in 1959.
  • Churchill Downs founder and president Col. M. Lewis Clark might have made the rose the official flower of the race after attending an 1883 post-derby party where socialite E. Berry Wall was handing the flower out to the ladies in attendance.
  • The Derby is also referred to as “The Run for the Roses” because the winner is awarded a blanket sewn with over 400 roses post-race. This blanket weighs about 40 lbs. It is also known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports.”
  • Owner Calumet Farm holds the record for most Kentucky Derby wins, with 8. “Plain Ben” Jones holds the record for a trainer with the most wins (6).
  • Post No. 1 has become known as “the dreaded rail.”
  • 1919 champion Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner, however, he hadn’t won a race before arriving at the Derby.
  • Over $150 million in wagers have been placed over the last several Kentucky Derby races.
  • Horses must be three years or younger in order to compete.
  • The Derby has never been canceled or postponed due to inclement weather.
  • The historic 1-1/4 mile race was originally 1-1/2 miles before the current distance was established in 1896.
  • The Kentucky Derby was started by Lewis Clark Jr. – grandson of William Clark, half of the famous explorer duo Lewis and Clark – after he saw England’s, Epsom Derby.
  • Only three fillies (female horses) have won the Derby: Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980, and Winning Colors in 1988.
  • The 2018 event set the record for the wettest Kentucky Derby in history, with over 2.31 inches of rainfall.
  • The race was first televised in 1952.
  • The purse for the 2019 Derby will be $3 million, with the winner taking home $1.86 million, $600,000 for second place, $300,000 for third place, $150,000 for fourth place, and $90,000 for fifth. This marks a significant increase in the prize money: from 2005 to 2018, the purse was only $2 million.
  • The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing and is followed by the Preakness Stakes on May 18th and the Belmont Stakes on June 8th.
  • The 1 1/4-mile race runs on a dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Twenty horses enter the Derby, which is one of the largest fields in horse racing. To qualify for the Derby, horses and their jockeys travel on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of 35 races that features a point system. The top four finishers at those races earn points and the top 20 horses at the 35 races earn a spot in the starting post in the Kentucky Derby race.
  • The 145-year-old event has been going on since 1875. In its first race, approximately 10,000 spectators watched. Now as many 150,000 packs into Churchill Downs to take in the famous race.
  • The race made its radio broadcast debut in 1925 that drew about 5 million to 6 million listeners. From there, the race made its telecast debut locally in 1949 before garnering national television coverage in 1952.
  • One of the famous landmarks at Churchill Downs is the Twin Spires that sit atop the grandstands. The Twin Spires were constructed in 1895 by designer Joseph Dominic Baldez.
  • There have been 144 winners of the Kentucky Derby, but here’s a glance at the horses that have won since 2000:
2000: Fusaichi Pegasus, 2:01.12
2001: Monarchos, 1:59.97
2002: War Emblem, 2:01.13
2003: Funny Cide, 2:01.19
2004: Smarty Jones, 2:04.06
2005: Giacomo, 2:02.75
2006: Barbaro, 2:01.36
2007: Street Sense, 2:02.17
2008: Big Brown, 2:01.82
2009: Mine That Bird, 2:02.66
2010: Super Saver, 2:04.45
2011: Animal Kingdom, 2:02.04
2012: I’ll Have Another, 2:01.83
2013: Orb, 2:02.89
2014: California Chrome, 2:03.66
2015: American Pharoah, 2:03.02
2016: Nyquist, 2:01.31
2017: Always Dreaming, 2:03.59
2018: Justify, 2:04.20

Odds to win the 2019 Kentucky Derby

Omaha Beach – 4-1
Game Winner – 5-1
Roadster – 6-1
Improbable – 6-1
Maximum Security – 10-1
Tacitus – 10-1
Code of Honor – 15-1
Win Win Win – 15-1
War of Will – 20-1
Tax – 20-1
By My Standards – 20-1
Vekoma – 20-1
Plus Que Parfait – 30-1
Cutting Humor – 30-1
Haikal – 30-1
Long Range Toddy – 30-1
Spinoff – 30-1
Country House – 30-1
Gray Magician – 50-1
Master Fencer – 50-1

Post time for the 2019 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for 6:38 p.m. ET. The actual race is scheduled to start at 6:50 p.m. and will only last about two minutes.

You can watch the Kentucky Derby on NBC, which will have TV coverage from 2:30-7:20 p.m. ET. Other pre-race coverage can be found on NBC Sports Network: “Derby Access” from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, May 2; the Kentucky Oaks 144 from 12-6:20 p.m. on Friday, May 3; and the Kentucky Derby Undercard from 12-2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 4.

The Kentucky Derby will also be streamed online this year via NBC Sports Live Extra or through the NBC Sports app. The NBC Sports app is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Microsoft Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Amazon Fire, and Chromecast. In addition, all Kentucky Derby events can be live-streamed on fuboTV.