Horse Barns and Stables: History of the Kentucky Derby

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.