Horse Podcast Ep 126: Kentucky Derby – When are We Going?

When you hear Kentucky Derby, three things come to mind, Racehorses, mint juleps, and big hats.  The “Run for the Roses”  aka the Kentucky Derby,  is known as the greatest two minutes in sports. The first Saturday of May is when this 144-year tradition takes place, at Churchill Downs in Louisville Kentucky, In 2021 it falls on May 1st. The race of 20 thoroughbreds takes them around a track of 1 1/4 miles or 10 furlongs with a typical crown of 155, 000 watching. Today’s episode takes us behind the stalls on history, the jockeys, and three amazing racehorses. Attending the Kentucky Derby is on my bucket list, so let’s hear all about tradition, how you qualify and what the prize is. Don’t forget to share with your friends so they don’t miss out.

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Kentucky Derby – Qualifying

To qualify for the Kentucky Derby, horses must compete in a series of prep races around the world. Horses win points for finishing in the top four spots and the 20 horses with the most points at the end of the series gain entry into the derby.
Only three-year-old Thoroughbreds of either sex can qualify, however, the colts have dominated over the filles in the past.

There are two ways for foreign horses to qualify for the Kentucky derby at the expense of those in the top 20 points in the American circuit. The Japan Road to the Kentucky derby which consists of four races extends an invite to a horse based in Japan, As well the European road to the Kentucky derby which has seven races is an entryway for the top European finisher in this series.

Kentucky Derby – The tradition

The derby has now run for 144 years uninterrupted, previous to 2020 where it was postponed a few months due to the covid 19 pandemic. It has run on the first Saturday of May even through the great depression and both world wars. The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the American Triple crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes. Horses must win all three races to win the Triple crown. In 2019 the Kentucky Derby began offering a three million dollar purse an increase from two million in 2005 and one million in 1996.

Kentucky Derby – Fastest run time

The fastest time ever in the derby was in 1973 at 1:59.4 seconds, when Secretariat broke the record set by Northern Dancer which was set in 1964. A record time has yet to be topped.

Kentucky Derby – Fashion

The tradition of the Kentucky Derby hats dates back to the very first derby in 1875. The Derbys founder wanted the reputation of the event to be more like the high-class European race tracks. He spread the word to the wealthy to add a bit of elegant flair to the event. In the late 1800s, southern belle and the wealthy wore hats to proper events like church, day parties, and more. Sure enough the wealthy came to the derby making this an elegant event. in the 1960s as fashion norms loosened, women began wearing more extravagant hats in order to stand out. From there the fashion has grown to great ext4ents at the derby, even hosting a hat parade.

Kentucky derby -Food and drinks

The longest continuously held sporting event in America wouldn’t be complete without food and drinks. The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Each year 120,00 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of the Oakes and Derby. Other treats you can enjoy are Kentucky Burgoo, Bacon Deviled eggs, and fried black eye peas.

Your Host today:

Heather (Canada)

Don’t forget to check out the resources section in this article!


  • Traditions- drinks, food, and big hats
  • The first leg of the Triple Crown
  • Bed of roses
  • Jockeys
  • The most exciting two minutes in sports
  • Secretariat, Barbaro, American Pharoah

Thank you for tuning in and happy trails!

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