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Racing Dudes Beginners Series: Kentucky Derby 101
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Racing Dudes Beginners Series: Kentucky Derby 101

Here is everything you need to know about the Kentucky Derby.  Once you get done reading this, check out “A Visual Guide to the Kentucky Derby” as well.  It contains interesting facts, horse racing terminology, Derby fashion over the years, and more.  View it by clicking here:  A Visual Guide to the Kentucky Derby

General Facts About The Race:

The Kentucky Derby is a the biggest race in America.  It is for three-year-old horses only, and held annually in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May.  The race is one and a quarter-mile long and open to both males and females.  Males carry 126 pounds while females carry 121. The race is known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” or you will also hear it called “The Run for the Roses.”  It is the first leg of the Triple Crown and is followed by the Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.  The race is considered an American Classic.  It out draws all other races held in the United States each year.  This years Derby will mark the 138th time the race has been ran.  The race stands as one of the longest continuous sporting events in the United States.  Simply put: this is the race every jockey, trainer, and owner dreams of winning.

How Do You Qualify?

The first thing you must do is nominate your horse for the race.  Hundreds of horses nominate to the Kentucky Derby every year, and there are only twenty spots open for the race.  To earn one of the coveted twenty spots, you must acquire “Graded Stakes Earnings.”  As we talked about early in the beginners series, major stakes races are graded 1, 2, and 3.  Anytime a horse runs in a graded stakes, those earnings count towards qualifying for the Derby.  For example: The Arkansas Derby is a Grade 1 race with a total purse of $1,000,000.  $600,000 goes to the winner, $200,000 for second, $100,000 for third, and $50,000 for fourth.  So if your horse wins the race, he or she gets $600,000 in graded earnings and is safely in the Kentucky Derby.  Usually a horse needs between $200,000 – $250,000 to get into the race.  There are several chances to acquire graded earnings throughout the year as almost every track across the United States run at least one Derby “prep race.”  Oaklawn Park, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, Santa Anita, Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Sunland, and Turfway Park all are known for producing several Kentucky Derby starters.  Each of these track major focus centers around prepping horses for the Kentucky Derby.


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)

Fastest Time:

1:59.40 – Secretariat (1973)

Longest length to win the race:

8 lengths – Assault (1946)                                                                                                                                                                                             8 lengths – Whirlaway (1941)

Longest shot to win the Derby:

91 to 1 – Donerail (1913)


Year Winner Jockey Trainer Owner Time
2011 Animal Kingdom John Velazquez H. Graham Motion Team Valor 2:02.04
2010 Super Saver Calvin Borel Todd Pletcher WinStar Farm 2:04.45
2009 Mine That Bird Calvin Borel Bennie L. Woolley, Jr. Double Eagle Ranch et al. 2:02.66
2008 Big Brown Kent Desormeaux Richard E. Dutrow, Jr. IEAH Stables / P. Pompa 2:01.82
2007 Street Sense Calvin Borel Carl Nafzger James B. Tafel 2:02.17
2006 Barbaro Edgar Prado Michael R. Matz Lael Stables 2:01.36
2005 Giacomo Mike E. Smith John Shirreffs Jerry & Ann Moss 2:02.75
2004 Smarty Jones Stewart Elliott John Servis Someday Farm 2:04.06
2003 Funny Cide Jose Santos Barclay Tagg Sackatoga Stable 2:01.19
2002 War Emblem Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert Thoroughbred Corp. 2:01.13
2001 Monarchos Jorge F. Chavez John T. Ward, Jr. John C. Oxley 1:59.97
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus Kent Desormeaux Neil Drysdale Fusao Sekiguchi 2:01.00
1999 Charismatic Chris Antley D. Wayne Lukas Bob & Beverly Lewis 2:03.20
1998 Real Quiet Kent Desormeaux Bob Baffert Michael E. Pegram 2:02.20
1997 Silver Charm Gary Stevens Bob Baffert Bob & Beverly Lewis 2:02.40
1996 Grindstone Jerry Bailey D. Wayne Lukas Overbrook Farm 2:01.00
1995 Thunder Gulch Gary Stevens D. Wayne Lukas† Michael Tabor 2:01.20
1994 Go for Gin Chris McCarron Nick Zito Condren & Cornacchia 2:03.60
1993 Sea Hero Jerry Bailey MacKenzie Miller Rokeby Stables 2:02.40
1992 Lil E. Tee Pat Day Lynn S. Whiting W. Cal Partee 2:03.00
1991 Strike the Gold Chris Antley Nick Zito BCC Stable 2:03.00
1990 Unbridled Craig Perret Carl Nafzger Frances A. Genter 2:02.00
1989 Sunday Silence Pat Valenzuela Charlie Whittingham H-G-W Partners 2:05.00
1988 Winning Colors ‡ Gary Stevens D. Wayne Lukas Eugene V. Klein 2:02.20
1987 Alysheba Chris McCarron Jack Van Berg D. & P. Scharbauer 2:03.40
1986 Ferdinand Bill Shoemaker Charlie Whittingham Elizabeth A. Keck 2:02.80
1985 Spend A Buck Angel Cordero, Jr. Cam Gambolati Dennis Diaz 2:00.20
1984 Swale Laffit Pincay, Jr. Woody Stephens Claiborne Farm 2:02.40
1983 Sunny’s Halo Ed Delahoussaye David C. Cross, Jr. D. J. Foster Stable 2:02.20
1982 Gato Del Sol Ed Delahoussaye Edwin J. Gregson Hancock & Peters 2:02.40
1981 Pleasant Colony Jorge Velasquez John P. Campo Buckland Farm 2:02.00
1980 Genuine Risk ‡ Jacinto Vasquez LeRoy Jolley Diana M. Firestone 2:02.00
1979 Spectacular Bid Ronnie Franklin Bud Delp Hawksworth Farm 2:02.40
1978 Affirmed † Steve Cauthen Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm 2:01.20
1977 Seattle Slew † Jean Cruguet William H. Turner, Jr. Karen L. Taylor 2:02.20
1976 Bold Forbes Angel Cordero, Jr. Laz Barrera E. Rodriguez Tizol 2:01.60
1975 Foolish Pleasure Jacinto Vasquez LeRoy Jolley John L. Greer 2:02.00
1974 Cannonade Angel Cordero, Jr. Woody Stephens John M. Olin 2:04.00
1973 Secretariat † Ron Turcotte Lucien Laurin Meadow Stable 1:59.40
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 Windfields 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 & Juliette Turner 2:02.20
1958 Tim Tam Ismael Valenzuela Jimmy Jones Calumet Farm 2:05.00
1957 Iron Liege 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. Parke 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 E. Sande W.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 Billy 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 Coyne 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 2:08.50
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 Byron McClelland Byron McClelland 2:37.50
1894 Chant Frank Goodale H. Eugene Leigh Leigh & Rose 2:41.00
1893 Lookout Eddie Kunze William McDaniel Cushing & 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 2:37.25
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, Sr. 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
1876 Vagrant Bobby Swim James Williams William Astor, Jr. 2:38.25
1875 Aristides Oliver Lewis Ansel Williamson Hal P. McGrath 2:37.75

Notes and Tidbits:

– Apollo, the 1882 winner, is the only 3 year old horse to win the derby without having raced the year before as a 2 year old.

– D. Wayne Lukas is the only trainer to sweep the Triple Crown with two different horses.  He did it in 1995.

– The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuous sporting event in the United States.

– My Old Kentucky Home is played before every Kentucky Derby

– Jockey Clavin Borel won the Derby three times in for years between 2007 – 2010

– Only three fillies have ever won the Kentukcy Derby

– The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep.

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