Fourteen Things You Might Not Know About the Kentucky Derby

Pop Culture
More than 167,000 fans attended the Kentucky Derby in 2016. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is almost here, and next Saturday, May 6, marks the 143rd edition of the most exciting two minutes in sports. Make sure you’re ready for your Kentucky Derby party with these 14 fun facts about the race:

1. The Kentucky Derby is one of the highest-attended sporting events in the world. Last year more than 167,000 fans packed Churchill Downs, and the average attendance over the last 10 years is 160,820.

American Pharoah at Churchill. (Eclipse Sportswire)

2. The betting favorite has won the last four editions of the race: Nyquist (2016), American Pharoah (2015), California Chrome (2014) and Orb (2013). The last time five straight favorites won the race was in 1895.

3. No horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby from post position No. 17. Each of the other 19 posts has had at least one winner.

4. Historic Calumet Farm has eight wins in the race and finished in the top three another five times. Now with a different owner, the farm is back with at least two runners in this year’s Kentucky Derby: Hence, Patch and possibly Sonneteer.

5. California-based horses have won the race four out of the last five years (2012, 2014-16) after a six-year winless drought.

6. There are 400 red roses in the winner’s garland. Another 60 are in the winning jockey’s bouquet, and 2,100 adorn the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle.

7. The most expensive horse to win the race is Fusaichi Pegasus, who cost a cool $4 million. Seventeen Kentucky Derby starters in the race’s history sold for $1 million or more at auction. Fusaichi Pegasus is the only winner from that group.

8. No horse has won the Kentucky Derby without racing the year prior (as a 2-year-old) since Apollo in 1882. 

Mint juleps on Derby day. (Eclipse Sportswire)

9. Churchill Downs serves up a whopping 127,000 mint juleps in two days for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, utilizing locally grown mint and another of Kentucky’s signature industries: bourbon.

10. Derby winner Donerail (1913) won at record odds of 91.45-1. He paid $184.90 for a $2 win bet.

11. The last time a horse bred in New Jersey ran in the Kentucky Derby was 1992. Jersey-bred Irish War Cry will be one of the top betting choices this year, but a New Jersey-bred hasn’t won since 1934.

12. Racing fans bet $192,587,197 on Kentucky Derby day in 2016. That is but a small fraction of the $10.7 billion total amount bet on racing in North America last year.

13. The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously run major sporting event in the country. It’s been run annually since 1875, as have the Longines Kentucky Oaks and the Clark Handicap (also at Churchill Downs, in November).

14. Eleven Kentucky Derby winners since 1966 spent Derby week housed in Barn 42, one of 47 barns on the Churchill Downs backside. Stall 21 in Barn 41 is the winningest stall, with four Derby victories.

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