As one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious horse races, the Kentucky Derby is as iconic as it gets.
Here’s a look at how the race works as we take you through our Kentucky Derby FAQ, highlighting all the Kentucky Derby info you’ll ever need.
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The Kentucky Derby is a Grade 1 horse race that comes with a $3 million purse, with first-place picking up a cool $1.86 million. The race is known as “The Run for Roses” as the winner is draped in a rose-covered blanket.
It’s a fast-action race and lasts around 2 minutes. As a result, many refer to the Kentucky Derby as “The Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sport” given the speed of the race and the elite field that it attracts each year.
Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky is the location of the race. The course is one of the most iconic in the country and has been open since 1875.
Whilst the course is best known for the Kentucky Derby that it hosts annually, it’s also played host to the Breeders Cup on 9 occasions, more than any other track in the US.
Other notable races at Churchill Downs include the Kentucky Oaks, Woodford Reserve Classic, Stephen Foster Handicap, and the Clark Handicap.
The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May and is one of the biggest races for online horse betting in the world.
The race is run at 3:30 pm local time (EDT).
The race is run over 1 ¼ mile. The surface of the track is dirt and given that it’s held at the start of May, the track is often fairly mixed, with all conditions from sloppy to fast being run over the last decade or so.
Horses will be required to navigate throughout the left-handed track, and it provides for some stunning picture with the iconic Churchill Downs grandstand in the background.
Interestingly, up until 1896, the race was run over 1 ½ mile but was reduced the following year to fit in with distances of other races around the world that were as equally iconic.
Country House was the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. The horse was trained by William I. Mott and ridden by Flavian Prat. Interestingly, the starting price of +6500 was one of the longest priced winners of the race for many years and up there as one of the longest of all time.
There was over $250.9 Million wagered via Kentucky Derby online betting on the day of the race for the Kentucky Oaks meeting, with the Derby pulling in a massive $165.5 million. The whole meeting is said to reach over $343 million in wagers in the US alone.
Country House qualified for the race via the Road to the Kentucky Derby. This is a point scoring system that allows horses to pick up points in ranking races throughout the year. Country House finished in 15th position of the 20 allotted places.
The win was one of the most controversial in Kentucky Derby history. The winner of the race was initially Maximum Security, who held off a late charge from Country House. However, after a 22-minute meeting, the stewards decided that Maximum Security had veered offline and blocked other horses, which was deemed an infraction.
As a result, Maximum Security was relegated to 17th place and Country House was then deemed the winner, much to the shock of the some 150,000 watching the race.
The field size for the Kentucky Derby is up to 20 horses, which is usually full each year.
The maximum age for the Kentucky Derby horses into the race is 3-year-old. Kentucky Derby info states it’s open to colt/geldings of 126lb and fillies of 121lb weight limits.
NBC is the host network for the Kentucky Derby and their coverage starts from early on Saturday morning, covering all races of the meeting. They will broadcast the race to over 20 million viewers in the US alone, and it can be accessed via their app on iOS and Android.
The first running of the Kentucky Derby was in 1875. It was hosted by Col. Merriweather Lewis Clark Jr. who traveled to England and watched The Derby at Epsom Racecourse in 1872.
On his return, he was able to raise enough money to run his own version of The Derby and did so running at the same 1 ½ mile distance The Derby had. The purpose-built track for the race would then become Churchill Downs and it’s played host to the race ever since.
Price of a ticket to go and watch the race starts from just $65. But there are only 10,000 tickets at this price, and they can drastically rise depending on where you are located.
Seats can range between $400 to $3,000 for 2-day access across the full meeting. Premium boxes start from $3,800 but a private suit for 24 or more people starts at a whopping $120,000.
The record attendance for the Kentucky Derby was in 2015 when over 170,000 people turned up to watch American Pharaoh win the race. The record came about as many knew they were going to be witnessing a piece of horse racing history.
The horse went off at +300, one of the shortest prices ever in Kentucky Derby history. But it was the fact that the Kentucky Derby was the first part of the Triple Crown that American Pharaoh went on to win that year (Belmont Stakes and Preakness Stakes the other two), becoming the first horse to do so in almost 40 years.
That wraps up our Kentucky Derby FAQ. We will keep this page updated each year to make sure all information is present and correct.