What is The Kentucky Derby?

Horse racing events are still popular among punters, even though they have lost the dominant place to football and other popular sports. There are plenty of events that racing fans can enjoy throughout the year, but few are as important as the Kentucky Derby. In the US, the annually held race brings together horse racing enthusiasts on the first Saturday in May. It is the culmination of the Kentucky Derby Festival where three-year-old thoroughbreds run a distance of 2 km, or 1 ¼ miles.

What makes the Run for the Roses Famous?

Commonly referred to as the Run for the Roses race because of the blanket of roses offered to the winner, the Kentucky Derby is a classic US race. The fans regard it as the most exciting two minutes in sports, as this is how long it usually takes and it has been running uninterruptedly since 1875. This makes it the oldest event in the United States and the only one to continue during the first and second World Wars, as well as the Great Depression.

In order to win the coveted Triple Crown, a participating horse must prevail in three races, which is quite an achievement. Because of the magnitude of the tournament, it attracts the largest crowds, ahead of the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and other North American horse racing events. Since the first race in 1975, the distance was reduced, but the number of people watching the event grew constantly.

Important milestones for the Kentucky Derby

For half a century, the Kentucky Derby gained traction and in 1925, the race was broadcasted on radio for the first time. This was an important milestone at the time and it was followed nearly a quarter of a century later in 1949 by the first television coverage. The race was only broadcasted locally in Louisville, so horse racing fans from other US states had to wait three more years for the first national TV broadcast of 1952. This prompted the purse to surge to new highs, with $100,000 being awarded in 1954.

There was no shortage of scandals and the winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby was disqualified for doping. Two years later, Diane Crump finished 15th in the race and became the first female jockey to participate in the Kentucky Derby. Interesting enough, the fastest time ever recorded was set in 1973 and no horse was able to top that record ever since. It took another 28 years for another horse to finish the race in under two minutes, with Monarchos beating the clock in 2001.

The Kentucky Derby purse money surged to $3 million in 2019 and the interest for the race is just as significant among punters. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being wagered every year, with land-based and online bookmakers covering the event. Not only Americans, but also international horse racing fans and punters frequently bet on the Kentucky Derby winner.