The Kentucky Derby: A Look Back and A Look Ahead

April 11, 2023

Since its inception in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has been known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”. It has become a cultural phenomenon and a staple of the American sporting calendar. The first Kentucky Derby had an estimated 10,000 spectators, and since then, the event has grown in size and popularity, with over 150,000 attendees in recent years.

The Kentucky Derby has seen its fair share of memorable moments over the years, including iconic wins, heartbreaking losses, and controversial disqualifications. Some of the most notable moments in Kentucky Derby history include:

  • Secretariat’s record-breaking win in 1973
  • Mine That Bird’s stunning upset victory in 2009
  • Maximum Security’s disqualification in 2019
  • Medina Spirit’s victory in 2021, despite controversy over a positive drug test

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Kentucky Derby has continued to be a highlight of the horse racing calendar. In 2020, the event was postponed from its traditional date in May to September, and no spectators were allowed to attend due to safety concerns. The 2021 Derby was held in May as usual, but with a reduced capacity of just over 50,000 spectators. The 2022 event saw a return to close to normal attendance, with over 147,000 spectators.

Looking ahead to the 2023 Kentucky Derby, horse racing fans and casual observers alike can expect another exciting and unpredictable race. Here is a closer look at what we can expect from the 2023 Kentucky Derby:

The Location and Schedule

The Kentucky Derby is traditionally held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2023, the race falls on Saturday, May 6th. The event is broadcast on NBC and expected to draw a large audience both in person and at home.

The Betting Odds

One of the most important factors to consider when making Kentucky Derby picks and bets is the kentucky derby betting odds. These odds are determined by a variety of factors, including the horse’s past performance, the jockey’s experience, and the horse’s physical condition. It is important to remember that betting odds can change leading up to the race based on new information and the amount of money being placed on each horse.

The Post Time

The official post time for the 2023 Kentucky Derby has yet to be announced, but last year’s race began at 6:57 p.m. EDT. This time is significant for fans as well as bettors, as it indicates when the race will start and when bets must be placed.

The Attendance and Purse Policy

While COVID-19 restrictions have eased significantly since the pandemic began, the 2023 Kentucky Derby is still subject to public health guidelines that may limit the number of fans allowed to attend. Churchill Downs has implemented various safety measures in previous years, such as social distancing requirements and mandatory mask-wearing, and may continue to do so if necessary.

As always, the purse policy at Churchill Downs restricts the size and number of bags guests can bring into the venue, so it’s important to check the current policy and plan accordingly.

The Kentucky Oaks

The Kentucky Oaks, a Grade 1 race for 3-year-old fillies, is held the day before the Kentucky Derby and is a popular event in its own right. The Oaks is often seen as a precursor to the Kentucky Derby and can provide insight into which horses and jockeys are performing well leading up to the main event.

Other Events During Kentucky Derby Week

In addition to the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, several other events and traditions take place during Kentucky Derby week. One of the most popular is Thurby, which is held on Thursday and is often referred to as “Louisville’s Day” at the races. Thurby is a fun way to kick off the festivities leading to the Derby and features races, food, and live music.

Another event that has become increasingly popular in recent years is the Kentucky Derby Festival, a two-week-long celebration leading up to the main event. The festival features a wide range of events, including concerts, parades, and the Great Steamboat Race.

The Horses to Watch

As always, the horses and their performances will be the main focus of the 2023 Kentucky Derby. While it is difficult to predict which horses will be the top contenders this far in advance, there are a few horses to keep an eye on based on their recent performances and breeding.

Forte, Tapit Trice, Practical Move, Mage, and Kingsbarns will all undoubtedly be horses to watch in 2023. As we saw last year with Rich Strike and some years back with Mine That Bird, upsets and surprises are always possible.

Additionally, there may be new contenders to keep an eye on as the road to the Kentucky Derby unfolds. As always, the Kentucky Derby is sure to be an exciting and unpredictable race, and fans and bettors alike will be eagerly anticipating the big event.

The Jockeys to Watch

In addition to the horses, the jockeys who ride them can also have a significant impact on the outcome of the Kentucky Derby. Here are a few jockeys to watch leading up to the 2023 Derby:

Irad Ortiz: Irad rides the favorite this year in Forte for trainer Todd Pletcher. Irad has yet to win the Kentucky Derby but it seems he has won just about everything else.

Luis Saez: Luis Saez was disqualified when he finished first in the Kentucky Derby aboard Maximum Security. This leading jockey and star in the sport rides top contender Tapit Trice this year.

John Velazquez: Velazquez has won the Kentucky Derby twice, most recently in 2020 aboard Authentic. He is widely considered one of the best jockeys in the world and is often sought after by top trainers.

Joel Rosario: Rosario won the 2021 Kentucky Derby aboard Medina Spirit and has had a successful career riding in some of the biggest races around the world.

Flavien Prat: Prat won the 2021 Kentucky Oaks and has had several other notable wins in major races, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

In conclusion, the Kentucky Derby is a time-honored tradition that continues to capture the attention of horse racing enthusiasts and casual fans alike. As we look back on the rich history of the race and look ahead to the 2023 edition, we can expect another thrilling two minutes of heart-pumping action on the first Saturday in May.

From the horses and jockeys to the location and schedule, there are many factors to consider when making predictions and placing bets. Whether you’re watching from home or attending in person, the Kentucky Derby is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

@jonathanstettin Nice piece and well articulated! Thanks for sharing your knowledge through your work!

Trey Reid (@ReidT8) View testimonials