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The History of the Kentucky Derby Horse Race



The Kentucky Derby is one of the racing events in American with the richest history. It dates back to 1875, making it the longest running sporting event in the US and has earned the nickname the ‘Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sport”.

Over the course of its history, it’s seen a vast array of surprising outcomes, shocking winners and incredibly athletic achievements. If you’re a betting man, here are some racing tips for you.

1874 – Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark creates the first Louisville Jockey Club, acquiring land for the racetrack where the first Kentucky Derby race will take from the following year on May 17th in front of a crowd of 10,000 spectators.

1883 – Leonatus wins the Derby and the name ‘Churchill Downs’ is used for the first time to christen the racetrack which is the home of the famed Kentucky Derby.

1896 – It’s believed that the distance of the race is too long for three-year-old Thoroughbreds, so the distance is shortened from one and a half miles to one and a quarter miles.

1903 – Following the suicide of Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, the racetrack comes under the leadership of Colonel Matt J Winn and celebrates its first profit.

1914 – Old Rosebud wins the Derby and sets a new record, finishing in just 2:03:04 and eight lengths ahead of the horse in second place.

1932 – In spite of the Great Depression, the Kentucky Derby continues to run and is internationally broadcast for the first time, reaching the BBC in the UK. The winner is the first Derby winner to be draped in a garland of red roses.

1973 – Secretariat wins the 99th running of the Kentucky Derby, with the fastest finishing time to date in 1:59:40, a record that still has not been beaten.

1986The Churchill Downs Racetrack, the home of the Kentucky Derby, becomes an official National Historic Landmark.

1999 – The Kentucky Derby celebrates is 125th year, with Charismatic winning this year’s race. This is the first year that fans are able to place Future Wagers which enables fans to bet on contenders leading up to the race and offers a chance for bettors to win more money if their chosen contender wins.

2006 – The winner of the Derby is Barbaro who wins by six and a half lengths, the biggest victory since 1946. He becomes injured just weeks later to the race in the Preakness Stakes and dies of complications from his injuries, leading to a bronze statue placed at the entrance to the racetrack in commemoration.

2012 – The 138th year of the race is a record-setting year, with I’ll Have Another winning the race in front of the biggest crowd the race has ever seen – 163,307 fans came to watch the fight for the title. This year is also a record-setting year in terms of wagering, with $133.1 million bet on the race across all sources.

2015 – American Pharoah wins the race and goes on to win the Triple Crown, breaking the drought that has lasted more than three decades.






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