Cool Things To Know About The Origins Of The Race And Churchill Downs
The Kentucky Derby.
Sipping a mint julep, ladies donning a beautiful hat, and race fans in singing “My Old Kentucky Home”. Making the Kentucky Derby a celebration of southern culture.
The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States. Since 1875 the race has run continuously even when coinciding with historical events like The Great Depression and World Wars I & II.
The Kentucky Derby began in 1872, when Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of William Clark – of the explorers Lewis and Clark – traveled to Europe. While there, Clark attended the Epsom Derby in England.
Upon Colonel Clarks return to Louisville, his uncle’s John & Henry Churchill, (Churchill Downs) gifted Colonel Clark the necessary land to develop a racetrack.
Colonel Clark organized a group of local race fans named the Louisville Jockey Club. The club built a permanent racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky.
On May 17th, 1875, the racetrack opened its gates and the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the first Kentucky Derby. A total of fifteen three-year-old Thoroughbred horses raced one and a half miles.
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.
1889 – Bookmakers demand that Colonel Clark remove pari-mutuel betting machines, because they are cutting into the bookmaker’s profits. Spokane wins the Derby.
1904 – The red rose becomes the official flower of the Kentucky Derby and Elwood wins the race.
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.
1931 – The Kentucky Derby is permanently scheduled for the first Saturday in May, as opposed to an undetermined date in mid-May.
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.
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.
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