It’s the first Saturday in May and the Kentucky Derby is set to begin at 6:57 p.m. ET on NBC. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the race, the fanfare surrounding some of the derby’s traditions have found their way into popular culture (big hats and mint juleps anyone)!
- The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States (the first race took place on May 17, 1875).
- The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses.
- 20 horses compete in the race.
- The race distance is one and one-quarter miles long (which usually takes horses a little over two minutes to complete from start to finish).
- The race is run on a dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Crowds can top 155,000 people.
- The Kentucky Derby is the first race within the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race).
Falvey Library Resources:
- The Kentucky Derby, the First 100 Years (Chew, 1974)
- The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event (Nicholson, 2012) eBook
- The Longest Shot: Lil E. Tee and the Kentucky Derby (Eisenberg, 1996) eBook
- Never Say Die: A Kentucky Colt, the Epsom Derby, and the Rise of the Modern Thoroughbred Industry (Nicholson, 2013) eBook
- The Foxes of Belair: Gallant Fox, Omaha, and the Quest for the Triple Crown (Kelly, 2023) eBook
- The Kentucky Mint Julep (Nickell, 2003) eBook
Works Cited: The Race. (2019). Kentuckyderby.com. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from https://www.kentuckyderby.com/history/the-race
Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Library. She visited Churchill Downs in 2019 (unfortunately, not on derby day).