Thoroughbred racing Wiki

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I thoroughbred stakes race for three-year-old racehorses, ran annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It is one and a quarter miles (2 km), during which colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57 kilograms) and fillies carry 121 (55 kilograms). In the United States, the race is nicknamed "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports", because of its approximate length; and "The Run for the Roses," because the winner receives a blanket of roses. It is the first leg in the U.S. Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes two weeks later, and the Belmont Stakes three weeks after that. To win the Triple Crown, a horse must win all three of these races, a difficult challenge which only eleven horses have ever accomplished. The race has been run every year since 1875. 


In 1882, Col Merriweather Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, traveled to England , visiting the Derby, a famous race that had been running anually from 1870. From there, Clark went on to Paris, France, where in 1863, a group of racing enthusiasts had formed the French Jockey Club and had organized  the Longchamps, which at that time was the greatest race in France. 

Returning home to Kentucky, Clark organized the Louisville Jockey Club for the purpose of raising money to build quality racing facilities just outside the city. The track would soon become known as Churchill Downs, named for John and Henry Churchill, who had provided the land for the track. Officially, the racetrack was incorporated as Churchill Downs in 1937. 

The Kentucky Derby was first run at 1-1/2 miles (2.4 kilometers), the same distance as the Epsom Derby. In 1896, the distance was changed to its current 1-1/4 miles (2 kilometers). On May 17, 1875, in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 people, a field of fifteen three-year-old horses contested the rainbow for the first Derby. Under jockey Oliver Lewis, a colt named Aristides, who was trained by future Hall of Famer Ansel Williamson, won the inaugural Derby. Later that year, Lewis rode Aristides to a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

Although the first race meet proved a success, the track ran into financial difficulties and in 1894 the New Louisville  Jockey Club was incorporated with new capitilization and imporoved facilities. Despite this, the business flounded until 1902 when Col. Matt Winn of Louisville put together a syndicate of businessmen to acquire the facility. Under Winn, Churchill Downs prospered and the Kentucky Derby then became the preeminent stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbred racehorses in North America.

Between 1875 and 1902, African-American jockeys won 15 of the  28 runnings of the Kentucky Derby. On May 11,  1892, African-American jockey Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton, age 15, became the youngest rider to win the Derby. The 1904 race was won by Elwood, the first Derby starter and winner owned by a woman, Laska Durnell. In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby (of only three in the history of the race), and in 1917, the English-bred colt "Omar Khayyam" became the first foreign-bred horse to win the race. 

Derby participants are limited to three-year-old horses. No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without racing at age two. 

Thoroughbred owners began sending their successful Derby horses to compete a few weeks later in the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course, in Baltimore, Maryland, followed by the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York.  The three races offered the largest purse and in 1919, Sir Barton became the first horse to win all three races. However, the term Triple Crown didn't come into use for another eleven years. In 1930, when Gallant Fox became the second to win all three races, sportwriter Charles Hatton brought the phrase into usage. Fueled by the media, public interest in the possibility of a "superhorse" that could win the Triple Crown began in the weeks leading up to the Derby. Two years after the term was coined, the race, which had been run in mid-May since inception, was changed to the first Saturday in May to allow for a specific schedule for the Triple Crown races. Since 1931, the order of Triple Crown races has been the Kentucky Derby first, followed by the Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes. Prior to 1931, the Preakness was run eleven times before the Derby. On May 12, 1917, and again on May 13, 1922, the Preakness and the Derby were run on the same day. On eleven occasions, the Belmont Stakes was run before the Preakness Stakes. 

On May 16, 1925, the first live radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby was originated by WHAS and was also carried by WGN in Chicago. On May 3, 1952, the first national television coverage of the Kentucky Derby took place, aired from then-CBS affiliate WHAS-TV. In 1954, the purse exceeded $100,000 for the first time. In 1968, Dancer's Image became the first (and to this day the only) horse to win the race and be disqualified after traces of phenylbutazone, an analgesic and anti-inflammitory drug, were found in the horses urinalysis; Forward Pass won a after a protracted legal battle by the owners of Dancer's Image (which they lost). Forward Pass thus became the eighth winner for Calumet Farm. Unexpectedly, the regulations at Kentucky thoroughbred race tracks were changed some years later, allowing horses to run on phenylbutazone. In 1970, Diane Crump became the first female jockey to ride in the Derby, finishing fifteenth aboard Fathom.

The fastest time ever run in the Derby (at its present distance) was set in 1973 at 1:59 2/5, when Secretariat broke the record set by Northern Dancer in 1964. Not only has Secretariat's world record never been broken, he did something unique for Triple Crown races: he ran each quarter faster than the one before it. Though times for non-winners were not recorded, Sham finished second two and a half lengths behind Secretariat in the same race. Using the thoroughbred racing convention of one length equaling one-fifth of a second to calculate Sham's time, he also finished in under two minutes. Another sub-two-minute finish, only the third, was set in 2008 by Monarchos at 1:59.97.

The 2004 Derby marked the first time that jockeys, as a result of a court order, were allowed to wear corporate advertising logos on their clothing.

In 2005, the purse distribution for the Derby was changed, so that horses finishing fifth would receive a share of the purse; previously only the first four finishers did so.

Norman Adams has been the designer of the Kentucky Derby Logo since 2002. On February 1, 2006, the Louisville-based fast-food company Yum! Brands, Inc. announced a corporate sponsorship deal to call the race "The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands."

In 2007, HM Queen Elizabeth II, on a visit to the United States, joined the racegoers at Churchill Downs.

In 2010, Calvin Borel set a new record, being the first jockey to win three of four consecutive Kentucky Derbys.


Most wins by a jockey

  • 5 - Eddie Arcaro (1938, 1941, 1945, 1948, 1952)
  • 5 - Bill Hartack (1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1969)

Most wins by a trainer

  • 6 - Ben A. Jones (1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952)

Most wins by an owner

  • 8 - Calumet Farm (1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1957, 1958, 1968)

Stakes Record

Margin of Victory

  • 8 lengths - Assault (1946)
  • 8 lengths - Whirlaway (1941)

Longest Shot to win the Derby 

  • 91 to 1 - Donerail


An * designates a Triple Crown winner.

A ** designates a filly.


Winner Jockey Trainer Owner Time Grade




I'll Have Another

Joel Rosario

Mario Gutierrez

Claude McGaughey III

Doug O'Neil

Stuart S. Janney III & Phipps Stable

J. Paul Reddam





2011 Animal Kingdom John Velazquez H. Graham Motion Team Valor 2:02.04 I
2010 Super Saver Calvin Borel Todd Pletcher WinStar Farm 2:04.45 I
2009 Mine That Bird Calvin Borel Bennie L. Woolley, Jr. Double Eagle Ranch et al. 2:02.66  I
2008 Big Brown Kent Desormeaux Richard E. Dutrow, Jr.  IEAH Stables/P. Pompa 2:01.82 I
2007 Street Sense Calvin Borel Carl Nafzger James B. Tafel 2:02.17 I
2006 Barbaro Edgar Prado Michael R. Matz Lael Stables 2:01.36 I
2005 Giacomo Mike E. Smith John Shirreffs Jerry and Ann Moss 2:02.75 I
2004 Smarty Jones Stewart Elliot John Servis Someday Farm 2:04.06 I
2003 Funny Cide Jose Santos Barclay Tagg Sackatoga Stable 2:01.19 I
2002 War Emblem Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert Thoroughbred Corp. 2:01.13 I
2001 Monarchos Jorge F. Chavez John T. Ward, Jr.  John C. Oxley 1:59.97 I
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus Kent Desormeaux Neil Drysdale Fusao Sekiguchi 2:01.00 I
1999 Charismatic Chris Antley D. Wayne Lukas Bob and Beverly Lewis 2:03.20 I
1998 Real Quiet Kent Desormeaux Bob Baffert Michael E. Pegram 2:02.20 I
1997 Silver Charm Gary Stevens Bob Baffert Bob and Beverly Lewis 2:02.40 I
1996 Grindstone Jerry Bailey D. Wayne Lukas Overbrook Farm 2:01.00 I
1995 Thunder Gulch Gary Stevens D. Wayne Lukas Michael Tabor 2:01.20 I
1994 Go for Gin Chris McCarron Nick Zito Condren and Cornacchia 2:03.60 I
1993 Sea Hero Jerry Bailey MacKenzie Miller Rokeby Stables 2:02.40 I
1992 Lil E. Tee Pat Day Lynn S. Whiting W. Cal Partee 2:03.00 I
1991 Strike the Gold Chris Antley Nick Zito BCC Stable 2:03.00 I
1990 Unbridled Craig Perret Carl Nafzger Frances A. Genter 2:02.00 I
1989 Sunday Silence Pat Valenzuela Charlie Whittingham H-G-W Partners 2:05.00 I
1988 Winning Colors** Gary Stevens D. Wayne Lukas Eugene V. Klein 2:02.20 I
1987 Alysheba Chris McCarron Jack Van Berg D. & P. Scharbauer 2:03.40 I
1986 Ferdinand Bill Shoemaker Charlie Whittingham Elizabeth A. Keck 2:02.80 I
1985 Spend A Buck Angel Cordero, Jr. Cam Gambolati Dennis Diaz 2:00.20 I
1984 Swale Laffit Pincay, Jr. Woody Stephens Claiborne Farm 2:02.40 I
1983 Sunny's Halo Eddie Delahoussaye David C. Cross, Jr. D. J. Foster Stable 2:02.20 I
1982 Gato Del Sol Eddie Delahoussaye Edwin J. Gregson Hancock & Peters 2:02.40 I
1981 Pleasant Colony Jorge Velasquez John P. Campo Buckland Farm 2:02.00 I
1980 Genuine Risk** Jacinto Vasquez LeRoy Jolley Diana M. Firestone 2:02.00 I
1979 Spectacular Bid Ronnie Franklin Bud Delp Hawksworth Farm 2:02.40 I
1978 Affirmed* Steve Cauthen Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm 2:01.20 I
1977 Seattle Slew* Jean Cruguet William H. Turner, Jr. Karen L. Taylor 2:02.20 I
1976 Bold Forbes Angel Cordero, Jr. Laz Barrera E. Rodriguez 2:01.60 I
1975 Foolish Pleasure Jacinto Vasquez LeRoy Jolley John L. Greer 2:02.00 I
1974 Cannonade Angel Cordero, Jr. Woody Stephens John M. Olin 2:04.00 I
1973 Secretariat* Ron Turcotte Lucien Laurin Meadow Stable 1:59.40 I
1972 Riva Ridge Ron Turcotte Lucien Laurin Meadow Stud 2:01.80
1971 Canonero II Gustavo Avila Juan Arias Edgar Caibett 2:03.20
1970 Dust Commander Mike Manganello Don Combs Robert E. Lehmann 2:03.40
1969 Majestic Prince Bill Hartack Johnny Longden Frank M. McMahon 2:01.80
1968 Forward Pass Ismael Valenzuela Henry Forrest Calumet Farm 2:02.20
1967 Proud Clarion Bobby Ussery Loyd Gentry, Jr. Darby Dan Farm 2:00.60
1966 Kauai King Don Brumfield Henry Forrest Ford Stable 2:02.00
1965 Lucky Debonair Bill Shoemaker Frank Catrone Ada L. Rice 2:01.20
1964 Northern Dancer Bill Hartack Horatio Luro Winfields Farm 2:00.00
1963 Chateaugay Braulio Baeza James P. Conway Darby Dan Farm 2:01.80
1962 Decidedly Bill Hartack Horatio Luro El Peco Ranch 2:00.40
1961 Carry Back Johnny Sellers Jack A. Price Katherine Price 2:04.00
1960 Venetian Way Bill Hartack Victor J. Sovinski Sunny Blue Farm 2:02.40
1959 Tomy Lee Bill Shoemaker Frank E. Childs Fred and Juliette Turner 2:02.20
1958 Tim Tam Ismael Valenzuela Jimmy Jones Calumet Farm 2:05.00
1957 Iron Leige Bill Hartack Jimmy Jones Calumet Farm 2:02.20
1956 Needles David Erb Hugh L. Fontaine D. & H. Stable 2:03.40
1955 Swaps Bill Shoemaker Mesh Tenney Rex C. Ellsworth 2:01.80
1954 Determine Raymond York William Molter Andrew J. Crevolin 2:03.00
1953 Dark Star Hank Moreno Eddie Hayward Cain Hoy Stable 2:02.00
1952 Hill Gail Eddie Arcaro Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 2:01.60
1951 Count Turf Conn McCreary Sol Rutchick Jack J. Amiel 2:02.60
1950 Middleground William Boland Max Hirsch King Ranch 2:01.60
1949 Ponder Steve Brooks Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 2:04.20
1948 Citation* Eddie Arcaro Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 2:05.40
1947 Jet Pilot Eric Guerin Tom Smith Maine Chance Farm 2:06.80
1946 Assault* Warren Mehrtens Max Hirsch King Ranch 2:06.60
1945 Hoop, Jr. Eddie Arcaro Ivan H. Rark Fred W. Hooper 2:07.00
1944 Pensive Conn McCreary Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 2:04.20
1943 Count Fleet* Johnny Longden Don Cameron Fannie Hertz 2:04.00
1942 Shut Out Wayne D. Wright John M. Gaver, Sr. Greentree Stable 2:04.40
1941 Whirlaway* Eddie Arcaro Ben A Jones Calumet Farm 2:01.40
1940 Gallahadion Carroll Bierman Roy Waldron Milky Way Farm 2:05.00
1939 Johnstown James Stout Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud 2:03.40
1938 Lawrin Eddie Arcaro Ben A. Jones Herbert M. Woolf 2:04.80
1937 War Admiral* Charley Kurtsinger George Conway Glen Riddle Farm 2:03.20
1936 Bold Venture Ira Hanford Max Hirsch Morton L. Schwartz 2:03.60
1935 Omaha* Willie Saunders Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud 2:05.00
1934 Cavalcade Mack Garner Bob Smith Brookmeade Stable 2:04.00
1933 Brokers Tip Don Meade Herbert J. Thompson Edward R. Bradley 2:06.80
1932 Burgoo King Eugene James Herbert J. Thompson Edward R. Bradley 2:05.20
1931 Twenty Grand Charley Kurtsinger James G. Rowe, Jr. Greentree Stable 2:01.80
1930 Gallant Fox* Earl Sande Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud 2:07.60
1929 Clyde Van Dusen Linus McAtee Clyde Van Dusen Herbert P. Gardner 2:10.80
1928 Reigh Count Chick Lang Bert S. Michell Fannie Hertz 2:10.40
1927 Whiskery Linus McAtee Fred Hopkins Harry P. Whitney 2:06.00
1926 Bubbling Over Albert Johnson Herbert J. Thompson Edward R. Bradley 2:03.80
1925 Flying Ebony Earl Sande William B. Duke Gifford A. Cochran 2:07.60
1924 Black Gold J. D. Mooney Hanley Webb Rosa M. Hoots 2:05.20
1923 Zev Earl Sande David J. Leary Rancocas Stable 2:05.40
1922 Morvich Albert Johnson Fred Burlew Benjamin Block 2:04.60
1921 Behave Yourself Charles Thompson Herbert J. Thompson Edward R. Bradley 2:04.20
1920 Paul Jones Ted Rice Billly Garth Ral Parr 2:09.00
1919 Sir Barton* Johnny Loftus H. Guy Bedwell J. K. L. Ross 2:09.80
1918 Exterminator William Knapp Henry McDaniel Willis Sharpe Kilmer 2:10.80
1917 Omar Khayyam Charles Borel Charles T. Patterson Billings & Johnson 2:04.60
1916 George Smith Johnny Loftus Hollie Hughes John Sanford 2:04.00
1915 Regret** Joe Notter James G. Rowe, Sr. Harry P. Whitney 2:05.40
1914 Old Rosebud John McCabe Frank D. Weir Hamilton C. Applegate 2:03.40
1913 Donerail Roscoe Goose Thomas P. Hayes Thomas P. Hayes 2:04.80
1912 Worth Carroll H. Shilling Frank M. Taylor Henry C. Hallenbeck 2:09.40
1911 Meridian George Archibald Albert Ewing Richard F. Carman 2:05.00
1910 Donau Frederick Herbert George Ham William Gerst 2:06.40
1909 Wintergreen Vincent Powers Charles Mack Jerome B. Respess 2:08.20
1908 Stone Street Arthur Pickens J. W. Hall C. E. & J. W. Hamilton 2:15.20
1907 Pink Star Andy Minder W. H. Fizer J. Hal Woodford 2:12.60
1906 Sir Huon Roscoe Troxler Pete Coyn Bashford Manor Stable 2:08.80
1905 Agile Jack Martin Robert Tucker Samuel S. Brown 2:10.75
1904 Elwood Shorty Prior Charles E. Durnell

Mrs. C. E. Durnell

1903 Judge Himes Hal Booker John P. Mayberry Charles R. Ellison 2:09.00
1902 Alan-a-Dale Jimmy Winkfield Thomas C. McDowell Thomas C. McDowell 2:08.75
1901 His Eminence Jimmy Winkfield Frank B. Van Meter Frank B. Van Meter 2:07.75
1900 Lieut. Gibson Jimmy Boland Charles Hughes Charles H. Smith 2:06.25
1899 Manuel Fred Taral Robert J. Walden A. H. & D. H. Morris 2:12.00
1898 Plaudit Willie Simms John E. Madden John E. Madden 2:09.00
1897 Typhoon II Buttons Garner J. C. Cahn J. C. Cahn 2:12.50
1896 Ben Brush Willie Simms Hardy Campbell, Jr. Mike F. Dwyer 2:07.75
1895 Halma Soup Perkins Bryon McClelland Bryon McClelland 2:37.50
1894 Chant Frank Goodale H. Eugene Leigh Leigh & Rose 2:41.00
1893 Lookout Eddie Kunze William McDaniel Crushing & Orth 2:39.25
1892 Azra Alonzo Clayton John H. Morris Bashford Manor Stable 2:41.50
1891 Kingman Isaac Murphy Dud Allen Jacobin Stable 2:52.25
1890 Riley Isaac Murphy Edward Corrigan Edward Corrigan 2:45.00
1889 Spokane Thomas Kiley John Rodegap Noah Armstrong 2:34.50
1888 Macbeth II George Covington John Campbell Chicago Stable 2:38.00
1887 Montrose Isaac Lewis John McGinty Labold Brothers 2:39.25
1886 Ben Ali Paul Duffy Jim Murphy J. B. A. Haggin 2:36.50
1885 Joe Cotton Erskine Henderson Abe Perry James T. Williams 2:37.50
1884 Buchanan Isaac Murphy William Bird William Cottrill 2:40.25
1883 Leonatus Billy Donohue Raleigh Colston Chinn & Morgan 2:43.00
1882 Apollo Babe Hurd Green B. Morris Morris & Patton 2:40.00
1881 Hindoo Jim McLaughlin James G. Rowe, Jr. Dwyer Bros. Stable 2:40.00
1880 Fonso George Lewis Tice Hutsell J. Snell Shawhan 2:37.50
1879 Lord Murphy Charlie Shauer George Rice Darden & Co 2:37.00
1878 Day Star Jimmy Carter Lee Paul T. J. Nichols 2:37.25
1877 Baden-Baden Billy Walker Edward D. Brown Daniel Swigert 2:38.00





Bobby Swim

Oliver Lewis

James Williams

Ansel Williamson

William Aster, Jr.

Hal P. McGrath