Fun Facts About the Louisiana Derby

Events / Travel

International Star (left) defeats Stanford to win the 102nd Louisiana Derby. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire)

This Saturday marks the 103rd running of the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, the track’s biggest Kentucky Derby prep. The race gives the winner 100 points and a virtually guaranteed spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May, but just how many Louisiana Derby winners have won the Kentucky Derby? Find this and 19 other fun facts about the crown jewel of the Fair Grounds meet below.

1. The Louisiana Derby began as the Crescent City Derby, in tribute to the nickname for the city of New Orleans, in 1894 with a purse of $2,000.

2. The purse for the 2016 edition will be $1-million, an amount first offered in 2011.

3. The speed record for the race’s 1 1/8-mile distance is held by Clev Er Tell, who won the race in 1:48 4/5 in 1977.

4. The slowest time? 2:07 3/5, nearly 20 seconds slower than Clev Er Tell, when Witfull won back in 1903.

5. Black Gold (1924) and Grindstone (1996) are the only Louisiana Derby winners to also win the Kentucky Derby.

6. Louisiana Derby runner Funny Cide (2003) won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but did so after finishing third at Fair Grounds.

7. Trainers Todd Pletcher (2007, 2010, 2013) and J.B. Theall (1949, 1953, 1954) each have three Louisiana Derby wins, tied for the most by a trainer. Pletcher could take sole ownership of the title this year if Battery wins.


8. The 2006 Louisiana Derby was cancelled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in August 2005 and forced the Fair Grounds meet to be shortened and moved to Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.

9. Lucky No. 7 is the winningest post position, with 13 Louisiana Derby winners exiting that stall but no one has won from that post in more than 25 years.

10. Betting favorites fare well in the Louisiana Derby, winning 47.8 percent of the time since 1920 and finished in the top three at a 77.8 percent clip.

11. Just two fillies have won the Louisiana Derby: Carolyn A. in 1947 and Grecian Princess in 1964.

12. City Light, the 1963 winner, holds the record for largest margin of victory at eight lengths. He faced just five other horses.

13. The largest field to contest a Louisiana Derby was 17 in 1954.

14. Louisiana Derby runners have fared better in the Belmont Stakes than either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness, with four winners from 38 Belmont Stakes runners for a 10.5 percent strike rate.


15. Owners Joe W. and/or Dorothy Brown have a record six wins in the race (1949, 1953, 1954, 1965, 1968, 1982).

16. In 2012 the race was moved to Sunday, April 1 to accommodate the NCAA Final Four basketball games, which were on Saturday and Monday. It was also the only time the race has been run in April.

17. The race has been won by a nose margin a whopping 11 times, most recently by Repent in 2002.

18. Hero of Order posted the biggest upset in the race in 2012 when he won at 109-1 odds, paying $220.80 for each $2 win ticket.


19. The Louisiana Derby has been run on an off track (anything other than fast) 18 times, most recently in 2009 when Friesan Fire took home the victory.

20. Jockey Pat Day has more wins in the race than any other rider with five (1986, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1997).

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!