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Why The Kentucky Derby Is More Than Just A Race
Credit: Coady Photography

Why The Kentucky Derby Is More Than Just A Race

The Kentucky Derby (G1) is described as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” For many, it is the race they look forward to the most on the horse racing calendar in the US. This year’s renewal of the 1 1/4-mile contest will take place on September 5 at its usual home of Churchill Downs. Here is a look at what makes this contest so special.

A Generation of Thoroughbreds Come Together

The Kentucky Derby is an annual race that features the best crop of three-year-old horses in the sport at that distance. This particular race suits horses which are known for their speed. Once they turn the final bend at Churchill Downs, it is a sprint to the finishing line.

Unlike other Grade One races, the contenders only get one shot at this contest. Often it is in a big field, therefore, a horse really has to be special to finish ahead of their rivals and add their name to the roll of honor.

Some of the best US horses of the last decade have all come out on top at Churchill Downs in this race. This includes California Chrome, American Pharoah, and Justify.

Part of US Triple Crown

There is no bigger accomplishment in US racing than winning the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby is normally the opening leg of that treble, with the Preakness Stakes (G1) and the Belmont Stakes (G1) the two proceeding races. This year is a little different though, as it is the second of those two races.

What makes the US Triple Crown so difficult to win is that all three legs are of different distances. At 1 1/4 miles, the Kentucky Derby is the shortest of the three. The Preakness Stakes takes place over 1 3/16 miles, while the Belmont Stakes is normally 1 1/2 miles (though the 2020 edition was 1 1/8 miles).

Contenders in 2020

Tiz The Law is the +275 favorite in the odds on horse racing to win the 2020 Kentucky Derby. He was successful in the Belmont Stakes, so he is the only horse who can land the Triple Crown this year.

Barclay Tagg’s runner has won all three of his starts this year. He opened his account with victory at Gulfstream Park, then returned to that same track near Miami to land the Florida Derby (G1).

Given how quick he was in the closing stages of the Triple Crown event at Belmont Park, Tiz The Law is likely to be a popular favorite in the betting for the Kentucky Derby.

Honor A. P. recently established himself as a contender at Churchill Downs following his win in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The 3-year-old colt is +500 in the betting to prevail in the biggest race of his career.

Fashion and Hospitality

As much as the Kentucky Derby is about the horses, the event is also synonymous with fashion and a great day out. Spectators are encouraged to dress up for the event, and certain areas of the race course even have a strict dress code.

Many groups plan their Kentucky Derby day months in advance. There are some fantastic hospitality packages which can be purchased at Churchill Downs, while those attending by general admission have lots of food and drink options available to them at the track.

Tickets are still on sale for the 2020 Kentucky Derby in September. Over 150,000 people are expected to pack into the Kentucky race course for one of the best race day experiences anywhere in the world. 

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