We have our own version of Game of Thrones going on here this weekend as two of the biggest names in Derby talk go head to head. So, here’s everything you needed to know about the Kentucky Derby in general and the day itself will prove to be exciting. Me, I’m a huge Mike Smith and Baffert fan, but since they are on opposite teams this year I think I may go with a longer shot, Tacitus. Anyway, The Kentucky Derby has been raced since 1875 so I’m just going to go down the list and hope you don’t poop out before the finish line. Let’s first start with some pertinent information about the race itself. There is proficient list of favs compiled by the Washington Post at the end.
The Kentucky Derby, is a top rank, Grade I stakes race for 3 year old Thoroughbred horses. The race distance is one and one-quarter miles long, and it is run on the dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Colts and geldings in the race carry 126 pounds (57 kg), and fillies in the race carry 121 pounds (55 kg).
20 horses compete in the Kentucky Derby, which is a larger field size than most horse races; where on average 8 horses race against one another. The 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby must first travel along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which is a series of 35 races taking place at tracks across the country and the world. Points are awarded to the top 4 horses that finish in each of those 35 races, and the 20 horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby race. The Kentucky Derby winning purse is $2 million.
The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May every year, and typically draws a crowd of 155,000 people. It is the longest continually held sporting event in America, and it is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, the Kentucky Derby receives this nickname from the approximate length of time it takes the winner to run from the starting gate to the finish line. The Kentucky Derby is the first race within the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race.
The first garland of roses wasn’t red, it was pink and white and was delivered in 1896. It wasn’t until
Each year, a garland of more than 400 red roses is sewn into a green satin backing with the seal of the Commonwealth on one end and the Twin Spires and number of the race’s current renewal on the other. Each garland is also adorned with a “crown” of roses, green fern and ribbon. The “crown,” a single rose pointing upward in the center of the garland, symbolizes the struggle and heart necessary to reach the Derby Winner’s Circle. The Kroger Company has been crafting the garland for the Kentucky Derby since 1987. After taking over the duties from the Kingsley Walker florist, Kroger began constructing the prestigious garland in one of its local stores for the public to view on Derby Eve.
A bit of tradition and part spectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade is much of what makes “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” one of the greatest people-watching events in the world!
The long-established trend was started with Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.’s vision for the Derby as an event that the high-class would attend, similar to European-style racing events, which mandated full morning dress for men and women. The extravagant hats that have become associated with the Kentucky Derby did not really come around until the 1960s, when social fashion norms loosened up and the hats became larger, brighter, and more extravagant. Find some great hats in our new issue here!
The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century.
Each year, almost 120,000 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.
Since 1975 the trophy has been created by New England Sterling located in North Attleboro, MA. The trophy, which is topped by an 18-karat gold horse and rider, includes horseshoe shaped handles, is 22 inches tall and weighs 56 ounces, excluding its jade base. The entire trophy is handcrafted with the exception of the horse and rider that are both cast from a mold.
To complete the trophy by April, craftsmen begin the process during the fall of the previous year and literally work hundreds of hours. The trophy is believed to be the only solid gold trophy that is annually awarded to the winner of a major American sporting event.
Twenty horses. We went ahead and added the current odds from Washington Post so you can choose your winner. You can bet at the official Kentucky Derby betting site twinspires link below
Post Time: Saturday, 6:50 p.m. Eastern time, NBC
Greenberg’s pick: Improbable
Here’s a closer look at the full 20-horse field for the 2019 Kentucky Derby:
No. 1 War of Will (20-1)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
His disappointment in the Louisiana Derby was due to a slip out of the starting gate but he looked impressive in three wins before that. Breaking from the rail is problematic: the last winner from this post was Ferdinand in 1986.
No. 2 Tax (20-1)
Trainer: Danny Gargan
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Claimed for $50,000 in October, he’s hit the board in three graded stakes races since and has the pedigree to last at the classic distance. Unfortunately, geldings like Tax have only won the Kentucky Derby four times in 115 chances since 1908 with the most recent four never finishing better than 16th.
No. 3 By My Standards (20-1)
Trainer: Bret Calhoun
Jockey: Gabriel Saez
Calhoun’s upset winner of the Louisiana Derby has one of the highest speed figures in the field. His sire, Goldencents, is a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile but finished 17th in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
No. 4 Gray Magician (50-1)
Trainer: Peter Miller
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
This year’s UAE Derby runner-up is taking a big step up in class here, but his pedigree screams speed and his front-running style could keep him in the mix until the end. A true wild card.
No. 5 Improbable (6-1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
This chestnut son of City Zip never finished worse than second in five races, including his last two graded stakes against fellow Derby competitors. He will have blinkers off, a worrying sign Baffert is still tinkering with his horse.
No. 6 Vekoma (20-1)
Trainer: George Weaver
Jockey: Javier Castellano
This forward-running colt won the Blue Grass by 3-1/2 lengths despite a fast pace and will have four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano in the saddle on Saturday.
No. 7 Maximum Security (10-1)
Trainer: Jason Servis
Jockey: Luis Saez
This former $16,000 maiden-claimer got a perfect trip in the Florida Derby. He could be let loose on the lead in a field devoid of speed.
No. 8 Tacitus (10-1)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
This son of Tapit leaped to the top of the Derby’s points leader board with wins in the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial but neither were against stiff competition.
No. 9 Plus Que Parfait (30-1)
Trainer: Brendan Walsh
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Imperial Racing’s Ridgeling is the first U.S.-based horse to win the UAE Derby but winners of that race are 0-for-10 in the Kentucky Derby. The best finish for a UAE Derby winner was Master of Hounds in 2011, a fifth-place effort.
No. 10 Cutting Humor (30-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Pletcher’s Derby hopeful set a track record in the Sunland Derby and has posted triple-digit Brisnet Late Pace figures (how fast the horse ran from the pre-stretch call to the finish) in three of his last four starts. He could get a piece of the superfecta at a nice price.
No. 11 Haikal (30-1)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh
This New York-based colt hit the board in five starts but all required pace meltdowns over shorter distances. It is unlikely he gets a similar blistering pace in this year’s Run for the Roses.
No. 12 Omaha Beach (4-1)
Trainer: Richard Mandella
Jockey: Mike Smith
He led wire to wire in his last two prep races and Mike Smith, a two-time Derby winner, aboard makes him a worthy morning-line favorite.
No. 13 Code of Honor (15-1)
Trainer: Shug McGaughey
Jockey: John Velazquez
Code of Honor’s late push at Gulfstream Park, which favors front-running horses, in the Florida Derby was impressive and could set him up to round out the exotics but that’s a best-case scenario.
No. 14 Win Win Win (15-1)
Trainer: Michael Trombetta
Jockey: Julian Pimentel
This closer got bumped in the Blue Grass and overcame a front-running bias at Keeneland to hold on for second. He closed into a fast pace in the Tampa Bay Derby, too.
No. 15 Master Fencer (50-1)
Trainer: Koichi Tsunoda
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Just one maiden win (albeit a stakes race) in 2018 and one allowance win in January in six starts is all that’s on this horse’s résumé. The first Japanese-bred Derby contestant appears to be outmatched here despite having run the classic distance twice on the turf.
No. 16 Game Winner (5-1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Joel Rosario
He is trying to become the third Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to win the Derby in 34 years. He would be the first to do it without winning any race in between.
No. 17 Roadster (6-1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Florent Geroux
The Santa Anita Derby winner is peaking at the right time after throat surgery and a long layoff. Can he win outside of California? No horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby from this post (0 for 40).
No. 18 Long Range Toddy (30-1)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Jon Court
Asmussen saw his colt step up in class in the Arkansas Derby against three Derby competitors, but walked away with a sixth-place finish, 14 lengths behind the winner.
No. 19 Spinoff (30-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Manny Franco
This son of Hard Spun was caught four wide on the turn in the Louisiana Derby before giving way in the stretch, but that didn’t stop him from earning a career-high Brisnet speed figure (102).
No. 20 Country House (30-1)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Country House earned a spot in the Derby due to his third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby but hasn’t dealt with a fast pace since the Risen Star in February.
IMAGES COURTESY OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY