kentucky derby

Derby Mania – Kentucky Derby 2023

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Rockin’ Reese Borges – Bleacher Brothers

Break out the mint julep glasses & big hats. It’s almost time for the fastest 2 minutes on television. Though it is the youngest of the “triple crown” horse races, the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting.  For nearly a century & a half, Churchill Downs in, Louisville, KY has been the site of the most popular horse race in America. How did it get to this iconic status?

mint julep

You can thank Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (grandson of William Clark & named after Clark’s expedition partner) for traveling to England & France and meeting horse racing enthusiasts in both countries. His experiences with them allowed him to start the Louisville Jockey Club, which ultimately raised funds for what would eventually become Churchill Downs. On May 17, 1785, in front of approximately 10,000 people, the very first Kentucky Derby was held, with Aristides being the winner of the race. Though there were early trials & tribulations with Churchill Downs, it eventually became one of the most iconic venues not just in the United States, but in the world. It was so iconic, that in 2007, a royal guest attended the Derby…Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen at the Derby

When it comes to the history of the Kentucky Derby, there were many noted instances. In 1890, Isaac Murphy became the first jockey to win the Derby twice, when he rode Riley to victory, 6 years after riding Buchanan to victory. The next year, he would become the first jockey win consecutive Derby races, when he rode Kingman to victory. In 1913, Donerail (a 91-1 longshot) won the Derby in the event’s biggest upset. In 1919, Sir Barton would begin his run toward become the first triple crown horse. In 1948, Eddie Arcaro would set 2 records with Citation. He would become the first 4-time winner of the Derby & he would become the first (and to this day, only) jockey to ride 2 triple crown horses (Arcaro rode Whirlaway in 1941). In 1949, the Derby was televised for the first time. In 1952, Arcaro would achieve his 5th & final Derby win by riding Hill Gail to victory.

Churchill Downs

In 1968, Dancer’s Image was the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby, then be disqualified, because it failed its urinalysis. In 1969, Bill Hartack would tie Arcaro’s record by winning his 5th Derby with Majestic Prince (Iron Liege in 1957, Venetian Way in 1960, Decidely in 1962, & Northern Dancer in 1964 were the other horses he rode). In 1970, Diane Crump became the first female jockey in the Kentucky Derby, riding Fathom. In 1973, Secretariat posted the fastest time in Derby history, en route to winning his triple crown. In 1977 (with Seattle Slew) & 1978 (with Affirmed), we saw the beginning of the only time when horse racing had a triple crown winner in consecutive years. In 2013, Rosie Napravnik became the first female jockey to place in the top 5, with Mylute earning 5th place. In 2015, we would see the beginning of the end of a 38-year triple crown drought, as American Pharaoh would win the Derby in decisive fashion. In 2018, Justify would be the last horse (to date) to begin a successful triple crown run.

Secretariat

As we prepare for another year of triple crown racing, we have questions that need to be answered. Will Secretariat’s 50-year record of fastest Derby victory be broken? Which horse will win this year’s Derby? Will that horse go on to complete the triple crown and join the likes of Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Count Fleet, & Assault? We begin getting some of those answers, tonight. Riders up!

and down the stretch they come!!!

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