Louisville, Kentucky, is the venue for the famous Kentucky Derby. Since 1875, the first Saturday in May has been a day of horse racing and gala celebrations. Churchill Downs is the name of the Kentucky Derby racetrack. Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark built the racetrack, barns, and garages as he was preparing for the first Kentucky Derby. A rich history surrounds the Kentucky Derby, and this famed race has captured the attention of race enthusiasts all over the world.
History of the Kentucky Derby
Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark was the grandson of William Clark, famed explorer who participated in the Lewis and Clark expedition. On a trip to England, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark observed horse racing. Clark returned to his Kentucky barns and set about duplicating the race in Louisville. The racetrack he built was originally 1.5 miles long, but later it was shortened to 1.25 miles. On May 17, 1785, about 10,000 people viewed the first Kentucky Derby race. The Kentucky Derby is the first stage of the American Triple Crown. After completion of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes races occur. The Kentucky Derby has run every year since its inception.
Rules and Requirements
A number of rules and requirements govern participation in the Kentucky Derby. Horses must be three-year-old thoroughbreds. Stringent rules are also in place for the names of the horses that participate in the race. Participants must pay an entry fee, a starting fee, and a jockey mount fee. A point system is also in place, which assigns values to the horses running in the race.
- The First Kentucky Derby – On May 17, 1875, the Kentucky Derby debuted at Churchill Downs.
- The First Derby Day – Meriwether Lewis Clark built the race course at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.
- Historical Progression of Racing Performance in Thoroughbreds and Man – Explore the winning times of horses in the Kentucky Derby to see how they have changed over the years.
- Kentucky Derby and Thoroughbreds – Facts Behind the Image – The State of Kentucky offers insights and details about the horses that participate in the Kentucky Derby.
- 1870 Fast Facts – The U.S. Census Bureau shares a glimpse of notable events that occurred during the 1870s, including the first Kentucky Derby race.
- Kentucky Derby 139 – Orb Wins! – Read a recap of Kentucky Derby 139, when Orb and jockey Joel Rosario won.
- The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event – Author James C. Nicholson has written a book that delves into the history of the Kentucky Derby, as this synopsis explains.
- The African American Legacy in the Kentucky Derby – The Center for African American Studies explores the history of African American jockeys participating in the Kentucky Derby.
- Aristides Wins the First Kentucky Derby – Jockey Oliver Lewis rode Aristides to victory in the first Kentucky Derby.
- Why Study The Derby? – The Kentucky Derby Museum outlines some interesting facts about the Kentucky Derby, including the number of people who attend the event every year and the number of jobs it contributes to the local economy.
- The Kentucky Derby, 136 Years Ago – The first Kentucky Derby in 1875 was predicted to be the first of many races.
- Kentucky Derby Facts (PDF) – Learn facts about the Kentucky Derby, including the length of the race and traditional foods people eat on the day of the race.
- The Kentucky Derby – Explore the requirements and rules of the Kentucky Derby, as outlined on this web page.
- Explore Kentucky’s Horse History – Kentucky has a rich horse history, which is intertwined with the history of the Kentucky Derby.
- Ahead Of The Kentucky Derby, 5 Absurd Rules For Naming Racehorses – Learn about race horse naming rules instituted by The Jockey Club.
- The Kentucky Derby – The Euclid Public Library offers information about the Kentucky Derby on its website.
- A Thoroughbred Trophy – Explore details about the Kentucky Derby in this article, including information about the Kentucky Derby trophy awarded to the winner.
- Kentucky Derby Horse Race – Encyclopedia Britannica shares information about the history of the Kentucky Derby.
- The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Black Jockeys – Black jockeys have a long and notable history, participating in the Kentucky Derby.
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Kentucky Derby – Learn little-known trivia about the Kentucky Derby, including the age of the youngest jockey to win the race.
- Why Do Kentucky Derby Horses Have Such Crazy Names? – Owners have to follow rigid rules for naming horses bound for the Kentucky Derby.
- 2015 Kentucky Derby Point System – A new point system is in place for the Kentucky Derby, as outlined on this page.