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Are you ready for the 141st Kentucky Derby taking place in Louisville, Kentucky on May 2nd?

  • Jason Whitney

The Kentucky Derby is the first leg in the Triple Crown, which includes the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The Derby is a race steeped in rich history, and upholds a tradition as old as the track it’s run upon.

The Derby has been run every single year since its 1875 conception. The actual race is one­-and­-a­-quarter­-miles raced by three­year­old thoroughbreds.

Due to the length of the race, it is often referred to as “the fastest two minutes in sports.” The first winner of this historic race was the majestic Aristides, who was ridden by jockey, Oliver Lewis, in 1875. The fastest winner of the derby was the legendary Secretariat in 1973 with a time of 1:59.40. Only a single other Kentucky Derby has ever been run under two minutes, and that was Monarchos’ win in 2001. Secretariat’s legend lives on in a movie of the same name, which stars Diane Lane and John Malkovich.

The Track

On May 17th, 1875, the track – what would eventually be known as Churchill Downs – opened. It held four initial races, and included in this schedule was the Kentucky Derby. Col. Lewis Clark’s travels to Europe gave him the idea to build the track. He returned to Kentucky with the idea to build a track featuring the local breeding industry. John and Henry Churchill leased the site to Clark, their nephew, in 1874. In 1937, the track became incorporated.

Symbols and Traditions

The twin spires, which overlook Churchill Downs, were first conceived by Joseph Dominic Baldez as part of his design for the grandstands. The original plans didn’t include these iconic features, but were added by Baldez to give the grandstands a stronger visual appeal. Built in 1895, the twin spires have become the symbols for both the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs.

The rose is the official flower of the Kentucky Derby. It was adopted by Col. Lewis Clark in 1904. It has since become synonymous with the race, especially after esteemed New York columnist, Bill Corum, called the race “The run for the roses.” The garland of roses placed on the race’s winning horse grew out of this association. The first garland ever was given to the winner of the 1904 derby, and was a more modest prize than the current one, which is made from more than 400 roses.

At the races, everyone drinks mint juleps. This drink is a mixture of bourbon, mint, and sugar syrup, and it’s the official beverage of the race. This is an honor the beverage has held for nearly one hundred years.

Betting and The 141st Kentucky Derby

The field is beginning to take shape for this year’s race, which is shaping up to be a doozy. El Kabeir, American Pharaoh, and Carpe Diem are just three of the horses who are generating speculation. Will one of them wear the garland of roses?

The odds makers are already picking their favorites, and these three have made the list. Bets will be placed at Churchill Downs based on the forecasting made by handicappers. If you’re unable to make it to Louisville, Kentucky on May 2nd, then online Kentucky Derby betting is the next best option for placing a wager.

The Kentucky Derby is the most attended of all the races in the Triple Crown. It has both a rich history and fun traditions to make it special. Make sure you watch the race this May! After all, it should only require about two minutes of your time.

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Jason Whitney

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