Derby Fun Facts

The 147th edition of the Kentucky Derby is back where it belongs on the 2021 Triple Crown calendar- the first Saturday in May at  Churchill Downs.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Churchill to postpone the first jewel of the Triple Crown to September. It marked the first time since 1945 that the race was not held on the first Saturday in May.

This year’s Kentucky Derby is now just around the corner- May 1st, so let’s have a look at ten fun facts regarding America’s signature horse racing event.

1. The Kentucky Derby has run at a distance of 1 ¼ miles since 1896, when the race was shortened from its original distance of 1 ½ miles.

2. The fastest Winning time for the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby is 1:59.40 which was established in 1973 by eventual Triple Crown Winner SECRETARIAT. In 2001 MONARCHOS Won the race in 1:59.97, making him the only other Winner to crack the two-minute barrier for 1 ¼ miles in the race’s history.

3. The smallest field size in the history of the Kentucky Derby is three. It happened twice: the 1892 edition Won by AZRA; and the 1905 contest, which was Won by AGILE. The maximum number of starters for the Derby these days is 20.

4. Forty fillies have entered the starting gate the Kentucky Derby with three Winners: REGRET in 1915, GENUINE RISK in 1980, and the most recent, WINNING COLORS in 1988.

5. The record payout for a $2 Win wager in the Derby is $184.90. That monstrous R.O.I. occurred way back in 1913 when 91-1 DONERAIL crossed the wire first.

6. The record Exacta payout for the Kentucky Derby was set in 2005 when GIACOMO at odds of 50-1 got the Victory while the 71-1 CLOSING ARGUMENT ran 2nd. That $2 Exacta brought back $9,815 dollars.

7. $1,000 dollars was the purse for the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875, which was Won by ARISTIDES.

8. Since 2019 the purse for the Kentucky Derby has been 3 million dollars, with the Winners share being $1,860,000.

9. The record number of Derby Victories by a trainer is six. Both Ben Jones and Bob Baffert have Won the Run For The Roses six times. Baffert could very well stand alone with this record after May 1st.

10. The on-hand attendance record for the Derby is 170,513. That throng gathered in 2015 to watch AMERICAN PHAROAH take the KD and capture the first leg of the Triple Crown that he would eventually Win.

COVID restrictions ensure that the attendance record won’t be broken this year, but the mere fact that race will happen on the first Saturday in May helps bring back a bit of normalcy in the sport- and perhaps the country.

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