The Kentucky Derby is coming up next weekend and we hope you have your big hat ready! Before you place your bets, read up on these ten fun facts that you may not know about the south’s favorite spring sporting event.
- Begun in 1875, the Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States.
- The Derby was started by Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of William Clark, the famous explorer of the Lewis and Clark duo.
- Churchill Downs was named after Colonel Clark’s uncles, John and Henry Churchill, who leased him the land that would host the Kentucky Derby.
- Only twelve horses have won the illustrious Triple Crown, a series of races for three-year old thoroughbreds including the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
- It takes over 1,000 pounds of fresh mint to serve the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep. Making juleps for your derby party? Here’s your recipe and a few others.
- The day before fans gather for the Derby, Churchill Downs and its guests embrace all things pink as three-year old fillies race in the Kentucky Oaks. The pink-lavished events of the day are meant to draw attention to and help raise funds for women’s health issues, most notably breast and ovarian cancer.
- The Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby were inspired by two prominent horse races held in England, the Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby.
- It takes approximately two minutes for the winning horse to race from the starting gate to the finish line of the Kentucky Derby, giving it the nickname of “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”
- The Garland of Roses, given to the winner of the Derby, is made of more than 400 brilliant, red “freedom roses,” so named to honor the victims and family members of 9/11, and the men and women serving in the armed forces to protect the freedoms of our great nation.
- There is a superstition which holds that if a horseshoe is turned down, all the luck will run out. This is why the original Derby trophy design was altered in 1999, to reflect a horseshoe with its ends pointed up.
Have you attended the Kentucky Derby? What fun facts did we miss?