12 Interesting Happenings in Kentucky Derby® History

Posted by Carolynn Wilcox on Mon, Oct 12, 2015 @ 17:27 PM

Kentucky Derby American Pharoah

  1. In 1891, Kingman ran the slowest winning Derby time of 2:52.25.  Spirit of the Times wrote that for the first half-mile of the race, “It was simply a canter, not even a respectable gallop, each jockey apparently having orders to stay in the rear and let the others cut out the work.”  Rather than the whole race being “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” it actually took two minutes to cover just the first mile!
  2. Back in 1892, the smallest field in Derby history was run – only three horses lined up to compete!
  3. In 1892, 15-year old Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton became the youngest jockey in the history of the Kentucky Derby to win it all.
  4. Once upon a time, the track distance for the Kentucky Derby was 1 ½ miles in length.  In 1896, the racing distance dropped to 1 ¼ miles – the same length we see today.  The thought behind this change was that the original distance was too lengthy for three-year olds to run so early in the spring season.
  5. Churchill Downs Kentucky DerbyColonel Matt Winn is widely regarded as the man who saved the Kentucky Derby – in 1902, Churchill Downs was struggling financially and was in danger of closing.  Colonel Winn took over and implemented a number of changes, including renovations to the clubhouse, modifications to the wagering system, and revolutionary changes in the way the Derby was promoted.  Winn is often credited as the man who gave the Derby its ‘aura of romance’!
  6. In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby! 
  7. Who won the first Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing?  Sir Barton in 1919, though the Triple Crown wouldn’t officially be commissioned until 1950.
  8. The lowest temperature recorded at the Kentucky Derby was 47°F in the years 1935 and 1957.
  9. To date, only one Kentucky Derby winner has been disqualified after the race: Dancer’s Image in 1968.  Traces of phenylbutazone, which relieves joint inflammation, were found in the horse’s system and were not legal in the Derby that year – interestingly, the drug was legal in both the 1967 and 1969 Derbies.
  10. In 1970, Diane Crump became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby.  As of 2015, no woman trainer or jockey has won the Derby, and only six women have ridden in it.
  11. In 1973, Triple Crown winner Secretariat ran the fastest Derby with a time of 1:59.40.  To put that in perspective, 2015’s Derby and Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, finished the track in 2:03.02.
  12. Sleet fell on Churchill Downs on the afternoon of the 1989 Derby.  The next day, snow was recorded!

Be a Part of History at the 142nd Kentucky Derby®

Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby-Stakes-RoomRenovations are underway at Churchill Downs and are scheduled to be completed by the 2016 Run for the Roses!  Do the Derby in style – check out our new packages in upgraded premium areas!  These swanky, revamped seating areas bring a touch of Las Vegas to Louisville, which is appropriate given the high-stakes atmosphere of Derby day. 

Be the first to experience the new upgrades at Churchill Downs with an Official Ticket Package from Derby Experiences!  Guests with premium packages will be out of the elements as they enjoy privileged views of the track and high-end amenities such as gourmet dining, open bars, outdoor viewing platforms and private wagering stations.  Three nights of luxurious hotel accommodations can be had at The Galt House, Embassy Suites Louisville-Downtown and The Seelbach hotels.  Reserve your package today before this once-in-a-lifetime chance sells out!

Topics: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 2016 Kentucky Derby, 142nd Kentucky Derby

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