Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby will be run for the 143rd time on Saturday, May 5 at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

The race is aptly called the most exciting two minutes in sports, and is one of the best betting races the entire year.

For this year’s Kentucky Derby news click here.

Kentucky Derby history dates back to 1875 when Aristides defeated a field of 15 to win the inaugural running, with an estimated 10,000 fans witnessing the race.

The three-year-old chestnut colt was owned by H.P. McGrath, and trained by Ansel Williamson and ridden by Oliver Lewis, both African Americans.

Not all was “Roses” for many years. The race was known more as a regional race for years, and in 1892 there were only three entered to run. Founder M. Lewis Clark committed suicide in 1899, just 12 days before the 25th running.

The race was shortened from 1 1/2 miles to its current distance of 1 1/4 miles in 1896.

Churchill Downs struggled in the early years, finally turning profitable when a group headed by former Louisville Mayor Charles Grainger, Charlie Price and Matt J. Winn agreed to take over the operation in 1902. The following year, Churchill Downs showed its first profit.

Donerail became the longest shot to win the Derby in 1913, paying $184.90 for a $2 wager.

Sir Barton became the first Triple Crown winner in 1919. The colt was actually the weaker half of an entry with highly regarded Billy Kelly. After winning the Derby, the colt was shipped to Baltimore where he won the Preakness Stakes, and was off to New York where he completed the sweep by winning the Belmont Stakes.

The box starting mechanism was first used in the Derby in 1930. Gallant Fox was the Triple Crown winner that year.

The first national television telecast was in 1952. Viewers saw Eddie Arcaro pilot Hill Gail to victory.

The first Derby winner disqualification took place in 1968 when first-place finisher Dancer’s Image tested positive for an illegal medication in post-race testing. Second-place finisher Forward Pass was declared the winner.

In 1974, an all-time record U.S. Thoroughbred racing crowd of 163,628 packed Churchill Downs to see Cannonade top a field of 23 and win the 100th Derby.

In 1980, Genuine Risk became just the second filly to win the Derby. Regret was the first, taking the run for the roses in 1915. Winning Colors went gate to wire in 1988 to become the third and last filly in Derby history to win the race.

Recent Derby winners like Funny Cide, Smarty Jones and Barbaro captured the attention of not only the sports world, but also the entire nation.

Ben A. Jones leads all trainers with six Derby winners. Jockeys Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack both have five winning Derby mounts.

2017 Replay: Always Dreaming wins for trainer Todd Pletcher


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