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Kentucky Derby Day

When is the Kentucky Derby: Always the first Saturday in May

Date: May 4, 2019; May 2, 2020; May 1, 2021; May7, 2022; May 6, 2023

The "Running of the Roses" as the Kentucky Derby is called, is America's premier horse racing event. Steeped in tradition, the derby is the first step in the Triple Crown of horse racing. It is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Each year approximately 155,000 people attend this all day event, which culminates in a roughly two minute race.

The Kentucky Derby is run on a 1 1/4 mile, 10 furlong, dirt track. The winner of the race receives a garland of rose and a $2 million purse. The winner has also reached the first step in winning the Triple Crown. The winning horse goes on to compete against other horses to hopefully win at the Preakness Stakes and finally at the Belmont Stakes.  

20 horses compete in the Kentucky Derby. Normally, far fewer horses race in any other horse racing event. To qualify for the Derby, the 3 year old thoroughbred horses must travel the "Road to the Kentucky Derby", a series of 35 horse races at tracks in the U.S. and around the world. Points are awarded and the top 20 horses proceed to the Kentucky Derby.

The race lasts about 2 minutes. It is preceded by all day long activities and celebration. The excitement increases in intensity leading up to the opening of the gates, and the "Run for the Roses" begins.

Tradition abounds at the Kentucky Derby. People come dressed to the nines. Ladies wear extravagant hats and participate in a Hat Parade.. Mint Juleps are the traditional drink, and are consumed in huge quantities, approximately 120,000 during this two day event..

Triple Crown Winners

Winning the Triple Crown is very difficult. Only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown. In 1978, Affirmed became just the 11th horse to win all three races. It was 37 long years before American Pharoah accomplished the feat. The latest Triple Crown winner is Justify, in 2018.

Mint Juleps are the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Use the Official Mint Julep recipe.

Kentucky Derby Trivia:

  • The Kentucky Derby is the longest continually running sporting event in the United States.
  • The race is sometimes referred to as "the most exciting two minutes in sports".
  • To win the Triple Crown, a horse needs to win the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and the Preakness.
  • in 1896, roses were first given to the winner. Jockey Ben Brush received white and pink roses.
  • In 1904, red roses became the official color.
  • Mint Juleps are the official drink of the race.
  • Approximately 120,000 Mint Juleps are served during the two day event. 60,000 pounds of ice are used.
  • As the horses step onto the track for the post derby parade, the band plays "My Old Kentucky Home. This tradition began around 1921.

Related Holidays: Mint Julep Day


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