The Best Kentucky Derby Winners of All Time

Posted by Jaclyn Harris on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 @ 12:34 PM

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most exhilarating thoroughbred races to watch! Each year, we keep track of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, holding our breath to see which 3-year-olds will have the points to qualify, wondering which will change history with the potential of becoming a Triple Crown champion.

So to get you excited for the 2014 Kentucky Derby and a new potential Triple Crown champion, we’ve compiled a list of the best Kentucky Derby winners of all time! Take a look:

5. Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew was the Kentucky Derby champion in 1977, and was undefeated throughout his season. With a rough start from the gate at Churchill Downs, fans believed that the Derby might be his first loss, but Seattle Slew came back from behind to win with a time of 2:02.20. He continued on to win the Triple Crown and was the only thoroughbred to do so with an undefeated record.

4. Assault

Assault made his strike in 1946 when World War II was over and the nation was continuing to rebuild after the Great Depression. Assault gave the US something to cheer about in his dominating season, and won the Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:06.60. He then went on to win the Triple Crown.

3. War Admiral

War Admiral is commonly recognized for “The Race of the Century,” where he fell to Seabiscuit. Prior to this race, War Admiral wowed his fans by winning the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown in 1937. He won the Derby with the time of 2:03.20 by grabbing the lead from the start and holding on to it throughout the entire race.

2. Affirmed

Affirmed, the great-great-grandson of War Admiral, made his mark by dominating all of the races he was eligible to run. This 3-year-old year will go down in history as one of the greatest in the modern racing era. He faced his greatest rival, Alydar, in the Kentucky Derby and won in one of the most intense rivalries in racing. Affirmed won with a 2:01.20 time, and has been the only Triple Crown champion since 1978.

1. Secretariat

Time for number one on our list: the 1973 Kentucky Derby champion, Secretariat. His racing career got off to a slow start and picked up with the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat holds the fastest run ever for the Derby at Churchill Downs with a time of 1:59.40! He then went on to win the Triple Crown, creating unbeatable record times for both the Preakness Stakes (1:53) and the Belmont Stakes (2:24).

Notable Mentions

Whirlaway (1941)
Sir Barton (1919)
Spectacular Bid (1979)

Attend the 140th Kentucky Derby and See History Made

The field for the 2014 Kentucky Derby hasn’t been decided with more Grade races on the schedule, but there are some promising contenders. Will we have a Secretariat record-breaking time? Or perhaps a new Triple Crown champion? Who knows! But you can be at Churchill Downs to find out!

With Derby Experiences Official Ticket Packages you’ll have the best seats at Churchill Downs to watch “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports!” Not to mention, you’ll receive access to a VIP in-track hospitality venue, exclusive amenities such as complimentary gourmet food and a premium open bar, and celebrity jockey appearances!

Additionally, you can opt in for transportation to and from Churchill Downs on Oaks and Derby days, and lodging at a luxurious Louisville hotel! This way, you don’t have to plan a thing and you can enjoy watching history be made!

Want to upgrade your experience? Check out Derby Experiences’ first annual Fillies & Lilies Party featuring Wynonna Judd and The Big Noise!

So what are you waiting for?! It’s time to plan your ultimate 2014 Kentucky Derby experience and secure your seat for the big race! Call 1-888-384-7088 or visit our website to book your trip to Churchill Downs today!

Take Me to the Derby!

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Kristen Doolan

Kristen Doolan was born and raised a Florida State Seminole. Making her way from Florida to North Carolina, Kristen achieved her B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing at The University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is an avid traveler, college football addict, beach bum and loves spending time with her family and friends. 


Jazzy Morgan

Jazzy Morgan is originally from London, England and a die-hard Manchester United Fan. She grew up in Connecticut and made the move down south in 2011 where she attended Winthrop University and received her B.S. in Family & Consumer Sciences and a minor in Marketing. Jazzy enjoys traveling, working out, reading her monthly Vogue & Cosmo and keeping up with fashion trends.


Evan Chronis

Evan Chronis was born in Omaha, Nebraska but has made his home in south Charlotte for almost two decades. A Tar Heel born and bred, Evan received his B.A in Media and Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill. He is an avid Boston sports fan thanks to his family’s New England roots, and a fanboy of Wes Anderson films.