The Kentucky Derby is among the most famous of all horse races, and certainly among the most well-attended in North America. The annual Thoroughbred race in Louisville, KY is often called "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports" or "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports" in addition to “The Run for the Roses.” While the former two nicknames refer to the approximate time in which the race occurs, the latter references the blanket of 554 roses traditionally draped around the winner.
The first leg of the Triple Crown - which also includes the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes - the Kentucky Derby is held annually at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of each May. Though the Derby was the last of the three Triple Crown races in inception, it is the only of the three to have run every consecutive year since it began. In fact, the Kentucky Derby is the longest continually-held sporting event in America.
The Kentucky Derby Festival turns the 2-minute race into a weeks-long celebration, running this year from April 14-May 6. Of course, the main attraction is the Derby itself, with over 150,000 attendees. Gates open at Churchill Downs at 8:00 AM and the first race of the day runs at 10:30 AM. The Kentucky Derby is slated for 6:34 PM, with 14 races total scheduled for the day. Kentucky Derby Week includes a variety of races and events leading up to Derby day.
In addition to the races, the Kentucky Derby is known for it’s fashion. Horse races, especially those that draw attended much attention or offer large prizes, are attended by many well-off patrons or notable persons, for whom it is an opportunity to be seen, much like a movie premiere or awards show. Ladies’ extravagant hats are a typical conversation piece, and the Derby’s website even includes a what-to-wear guide! Of course, betting on the races is also a popular activity.
20 horses who’ve travelled the Road to the Kentucky Derby will run the one-and-a-quarter mile, Grade I race, reserved especially for three-year-old Thoroughbreds. The Road to the Kentucky Derby consists of 35 races across the world in which placing horses earn points; the 20 with the most points are eligible to run the Derby. The Kentucky Derby’s website includes a list of the contenders including a profile of each, their race history, and opportunities to bet on the race. Plenty of other news outlets will also be covering the race and it’s runners, with horse biographies, analyses of the odds, and coverage of the Kentucky Derby itself.
The 142nd running is scheduled for Saturday, May 7, 2016 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The winner will receive a guaranteed purse of $2 million.