It is the longest-running sporting event in the history of the United States and also the fastest, most exciting, and popular two minutes sports event in the world. Every year since 1875, the Kentucky Derby has been run at Churchill Downs race track in Louisville, Kentucky.
The race caps off a two-week-long party known as the Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is a competition for three-year-old thoroughbreds that compete at a distance of one and a quarter miles (10 furlongs). The race’s winners routinely finish in just over two minutes.
The 2020 winner Authentic finished the race at 2:00.61 over the highly expected derby winner Tiz the Law. Each of the past three Kentucky Derby winners has finished with times of 2:03 or higher.
The record time for the Kentucky Derby is held by one of the most legendary horses of all time. Secretariat won the Triple Crown – Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes – in 1973. The horse won the first leg of that Triple Crown with a blistering Kentucky Derby time of 1:59.40.
Only one other Kentucky Derby winner has ever finished the race in under 2:00. In 2001, Monarchos won with a time of 1:59.97.
Also known as the “Run for the Roses,” the Kentucky Derby is based on England’s Epsom Derby, which dates back to the late 1700s. The grandson of William Clark – famous for the Lewis and Clark expedition – had visited Surrey in England where the Epsom Derby takes place.
Clark returned home to Kentucky to organize the Louisville Jockey Club. The club would eventually become Churchill Downs, named for the Churchill family that donated the land on which it stands.
Initially, the Kentucky Derby was a one and one-half mile race and times were routinely over 2:30. After the 1895 race won by Halma in 2:37.50, the Kentucky Derby was shortened to its current length of 1¼ miles. The first race at that distance in 1896 was won by Ben Brush in 2:07.75.
How to watch Kentucky Derby online
Kentucky Derby post time: 7:01 p.m. ET
Date: Saturday, May 1
TV Channel: NBC
Live online: NBCSports.com
Crowds of nearly 160,000 pack Churchill Downs to watch the two minutes race. Millions of people from around the world place wagers on the Kentucky Derby. Bets placed on the Derby day totaled nearly $251 million. Betting for the entire Kentucky Derby Festival topped $343 million, making for a very exciting two minutes.