Kentucky Derby facts & figures, preview and betting

Churchill Downs in Kentucky and Dundalk in Ireland link up once again on Friday

Will Reilly

Some facts and figures relating to the Kentucky Derby, by Will Reilly

The author John Steinbeck once said of the Kentucky Derby experience:

“It is a race, an emotion, a turbulence…one of the most beautiful and satisfying things I have ever experienced.”

Although 170,000 people could ordinarily attend the Kentucky Derby meeting, this will be restricted to 50,000 on Saturday owing to the Covid-19 situation. That’s still an excellent crowd.

It will be 146th running of the great race.


Some other facts relating to the famous race, which will be run this year on Saturday May 1st and carry prize-money of $3million:

It is the longest running sports event in the history of the USA, dating back to May 17th, 1875

There were 10,000 people at the first running of the race; there will be around 175,000 there this year

It is run at Churchill Downs; this name was first used in 1883

In 1896, the distance of the race was changed from 12 furlongs to 10 furlongs

The red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904

In 1931, it was permanently scheduled for the first Saturday in May each year

In 1952, it received its first live national-TV coverage

In 1970, Diane Crump became the first woman to ride in the race

In 1986, Churchill Downs was placed on the register of National Historic Landmarks

The rose garland was first awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner in  1896, hence the race being called ‘The Run For The Roses’

The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of American racing’s ‘Triple Crown’. The other legs are the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes

There have been 13 Triple Crown winners, the last six being Justify (2018), American Pharoah (2015), Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977), Secretariat (1973) and Citation (1948)

No horse trained in Europe has ever won the race; the closest it has come to success is when Bold Arrangement, trained in England by Clive Brittain, finished second to Ferdinand, ridden by the late, great Willie Shoemaker, in 1986

Ireland’s champ>>ion trainer Aidan O’Brien has had six runners in the Kentucky Derby, including the unplaced Mendelssohn  in 2018. The closest he has come to victory is when Master Of Hounds finished fifth to Animal Kingdom in 2011.

There is no runner from Europe this year.

This year’s race is due off at 11:57pm (UK/Irish time)


Here’s the link to our betting (we are paying 4 PLACES on the race) >> Kentucky Derby betting

(As at 1pm, UK/Irish time on Thursday April 29, we had Essential Quality as the 5/2 fav, followed by Rock Your World 5/1, Known Agenda 15/2, Hot Rod Charlie 8/1 then 9/1 bar.)

The four trainers that have won the last six Kentucky Derbys between them – Bob Baffert (2015,2018 & 2020 with American Pharoah, Justify & Authentic), William Mott (Country House, 2019), Todd Pletcher (Always Dreaming, 2017) and Doug O’Neill (Nyquist, 2016) – have six of this year’s runners between them.

Twenty horses are set to go to post for the historic race.


Here’s all you need to know about the runners…



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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article