The Derby who, what, and where

Everything you needed to know about the Kentucky Derby. Well almost everything. I can’t tell you who’s going to win. I do like Justify, but I’m also a sucker for the long shot Firenze Fire and I love My Boy Jack.  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.

The Race

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 Tradition


The first garland of roses wasn’t red, it was pink and white and  was delivered in 1896. It wasn’t until 1904 that the red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby although it wasn’t until 1925 it was famously dubbed the Kentucky Derby “Run for the Roses”. In 1932 the garland we see today was set in stone.
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.



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.

The Old Forester Mint Julep Recipe

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Old Forester Straight Bourbon Whisky
  • Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Old Forester Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.



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.

The Winners of the last 10 years

Winner Jockey Trainer Owner Time
2017 Always Dreaming John R. Velazquez Todd Pletcher Brooklyn Boyz Stables 2:03.59
2016 Nyquist Mario Gutierrez Doug F. O’Neill Reddam Racing LLC 2:01:31
2015 American Pharoah * Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert Ahmed Zayat 2:03.02
2014 California Chrome Victor Espinoza Art Sherman Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin 2:03.66
2013 Orb Joel Rosario Claude R. “Shug” McGaughey III Stuart Janney III & Phipps Stable (Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps) 2:02.89
2012 I’ll Have Another Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill J. Paul Reddam 2:01.83
2011 Animal Kingdom John Velazquez H. Graham Motion Team Valor International 2:02.04
2010 Super Saver Calvin Borel Todd Pletcher WinStar Farm LLC. 2:04.45
2009 Mine That Bird Calvin Borel Bennie Woolley Jr. Double Eagle Ranch & Bueno Suerte Equine 2:02.66
2008 Big Brown Kent Desormeaux Richard Dutrow, Jr. IEAH Stable (Michael Iavarone) and Paul P. Pompa Jr. 2:01.82
2007 Street Sense Calvin Borel Carl Nafzger James B. Tafel 2:02.17

The Field

We went ahead and added the current odds from NYtimes so you can choose your winner. You can bet  at the official Kentucky Derby betting site twinspires link below



1. Firenze Fire

Trainer: Jason Servis Jockey: Paco Lopez Odds: 50-1

2. Free Drop Billy

Trainer: Dale Romans Jockey: Robby Albarado Odds: 30-1

3. Promises Fulfilled

Trainer: Dale Romans Jockey: Corey Lanerie Odds: 30-1

4. Flameaway

Trainer: Mark Casse Jockey: Jose Lezcano Odds: 30-1

5. Audible

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Javier Castellano Odds: 8-1

6. Good Magic

Trainer: Chad Brown Jockey: Jose Ortiz Odds: 12-1

7. Justify

Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: Mike Smith Odds: 3-1

8. Lone Sailor

Trainer: Tom Amoss Jockey: James Graham Odds: 50-1

9. Hofburg

Trainer: Bill Mott Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 20-1

10. My Boy Jack

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux Jockey: Kent Desormeaux Odds: 20-1

11. Bolt d’Oro

Trainer: Mick Ruiz Jockey: Victor Espinoza Odds: 8-1

12. Enticed

Trainer: Kieran McLaughlin Jockey: Junior Alvarado Odds: 30-1

13. Bravazo

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas Jockey: Luis Contreras Odds: 50-1

14. Mendelssohn

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien Jockey: Ryan Moore Odds: 5-1

15. Instilled Regard

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke Odds: 50-1

16. Magnum Moon

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 6-1

17. Solomini

Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: Flavien Prat Odds: 30-1

18. Vino Rosso

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 12-1

19. Noble Indy

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Florent Geroux Odds: 30-1

20. Combatant

Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Odds: 50-1



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