The Kentucky Derby was first held in 1875 and ranks as the longest continuously running major sporting event in the United States.
This year will mark the 148the edition of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, which had been held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs every year since 1946 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2020 race to be postponed to September 5.
In 2021, the Kentucky Derby returned to its usual spot on the calendar as the first Triple Crown jewel (following the Belmont Stakes in 2020) and things seemed to be back to normal…until a few days after the race Medina Spirit was found to have tested positive for a banned substance. He was subsequently disqualified and Mandaloun was elevated to first place. The 2021 Kentucky Derby marked the second time in three years that the 3-year-old who crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby was not the official winner after Maximum Security was disqualified for interference in 2019 and Country House elevated to first place.
With so much history surrounding the first Triple Crown jewel, there are plenty of interesting facts about the race since Aristides won the inaugural edition on 19the Century. We are going to explore:
one) The most common color of Kentucky Derby winners is bay with 56, including Mandaloun in 2021, followed by chestnut with 48 winners and maroon with 17. Eight Kentucky Derby winners were gray or roan, most recently Giacomo in 2005 .
two) The names of nineteen Kentucky Derby winners have begun with the letter S, most any letter; the only three letters that are not represented by a Derby winner are Q, X, and Y.
3) There have been nine undefeated 30-horse Kentucky Derby winners who have run in the race since 1915. Triple Crown winner Justify in 2018 is the most recent. This year, Runhappy Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba has a chance to increase that number to 10 as one of the expected favorites.
4) Bill Shoemaker was 54 years old when he won the Kentucky Derby in 1986 aboard Ferdinand, the oldest jockey to win the race for the roses.
5) The record for the youngest winning jockey in the Kentucky Derby is 15 years old, held by Alonzo Clayton in 1892 aboard the Azra and James “Soup” Perkins in 1895 with Halma.
6) The Florida Derby has produced 24 Kentucky Derby winners over the years to rank as the most productive prep race on the Derby route. The Blue Grass Stakes and the Champagne Stakes rank second with 23.
7) The span at Churchill Downs is 1,234 feet long and the last Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray once wrote: “The homestretch is 1,234 feet of heartbreak. The coaches swear it’s uphill.”
8) There have been 23 editions of the Kentucky Derby in which the winner led from start to finish for a “rim to rim” win, most recently at Authentic in 2020.
9) Historic Calumet Farm in Lexington is the leading owner of Kentucky Derby winners with eight and the leading breeder of Kentucky Derby winners with nine. Calumet owned and bred the 1941 Triple Crown winner Whirlaway and the 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation.
10) The favorites have won 56 of the previous 147 editions of the Kentucky Derby, according to the official media guide, including six of the last nine editions.
eleven) Count Fleet in 1943 and Citation in 1948 rank as the overwhelming favorites to win the Kentucky Derby, both prevailing at odds of 2-5 and returning $2.80 on a $2 bet.
12) The largest margin of victory in the Kentucky Derby is eight lengths and was achieved four times in Derby history: Old Rosebud in 1914, Johnstown in 1939, Whirlaway in 1941 and Assault in 1946. The latter two swept the Triple Crown. .
13) The Kentucky Derby has been decided by a winning margin of a neck or less 25 times, so there’s a very good chance of an exciting finish.
14) The 2005 Kentucky Derby produced the record payout for the exact, trifecta and superfecta thanks to several massive unlikely shots in the top four, led by the 50.30-1 winner Giacomo. The runner-up’s closing argument was further overlooked at odds of 71.60-1 and fourth-place finisher Don’t Get Mad was 29.20-1. The only well-backed runner to hit the board was third-place finisher Afleet Alex as the second option in 9-2 betting. As a result, the $2 Exact paid out $9,814.80, the $2 Trifecta returned a whopping $133,134.80, and the $1 Superfect paid out a life-changing $864,253.
fifteen) The record for money wagered on the day of the Kentucky Derby came in 2019 when $250,900,257 was wagered on the race card at Churchill Downs.