10 Astounding Facts About the Kentucky Derby That Will Blow Your Mind

April 18, 2022

With the 148th edition of the annual Kentucky Derby being just around the corner, we’ve decided to bring you a list of 10 surprising facts about America’s most famous horse racing event:

1. Every year, spectators place millions in bets

Year in and year out, spectators are signing up to Kentucky Derby betting sites and placing a sizable chunk of change on their favorite contenders. In 2015, the total spent on wagers was $194.3, a record-breaking amount of money.

2. Mint Julep is the event’s iconic drink

Kentucky Derby wouldn’t be what it is without serving its iconic Mint Julep, an alcoholic beverage consisting of fresh mint, ice, and the Old Forester Mint Julep cocktail (individual interpretations of the recipe can vary). The guests guzzle down around 120,000 of these iconic drinks every year.

3. The event is always held on the same day

Even though the exact dates may have slight discrepancies, Kentucky Derby has traditionally always been held on the same day – the first Saturday in May. This allows for predictability and planning.

4. Only four winning horses have been bred outside the US

Out of every winning horse in the entire history of the Kentucky Derby, only four of them have been bred outside of the US. These are Sunny’s Halo, Tomy Lee, Northern Dancer, and Omar Khayyam, the latter of which became the first “foreign” winner to win the big race in 1917.

5. The red rose is the official symbol of the Kentucky Derby

Ever since 1896, when Ben Brush received the 1st place trophy made of roses, the tradition has continued. Although the initial garland consisted of white and pink roses, later on, the red rose became the official symbol of the Kentucky Derby. The garland weighs more than 40 pounds and consists of 400+ red roses.

6. Secretariat is the record-holding horse

In 1973, Secretariat made a record-breaking run, setting the time-to-beat to 1:59.40. This broke the previously-standing record time of 2:00.00 set by Northern Dancer.

7. There are two slowest-paced winning horses

When the racetrack was still 1 ½ mile in length in 1891, Kingman managed to secure a win at 2:52.25. Later on, in 1908, when its length was adjusted to 1 ¼ mile, Stone Street became the winning slowest-paced record holder at 2:15.20.

8. The youngest winning jockey was only 15 years old

When winning the race in 1892, Alonzo Clayton was only 15 years of age. His career started at 12 when he left his home to become an exercise rider. At 14, he managed to step his career up a bit and became a professional jockey.

9. The oldest winning jockey was 54 years old

Having an impressive track record of winning the Kentucky Derby four times in total, Bill Shoemaker is revered as one of the most successful jockeys. At the same time, he is also the older jockey to win the big race in 1986 at 54 years of age.

10. It costs a small fortune to enter the race

To enter the horse into the race, you will be asked to pay a $25,000 entry fee and a $25,000 starting fee. In addition, you will be charged a minimum of $600 for the nomination fee, and that only applies if you sign up early. Those late to the party can be charged anywhere between $6,000 and a whopping $200,000.


Which of these facts did you find the most surprising? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below this post. Until next time!

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