The Kentucky Derby is the longest-running sporting event in the U.S. Horse racing was so popular that it even used to be a part of the Olympics!
Throughout its long and storied history, there has been a starter's name that has begun with every letter of the alphabet, save one. For whatever reason, "X" has never been used.
The red rose has been the official flower for the Kentucky Derby since 1904. The rose was used in the winner's garland throughout the years of the race, but it wasn't until 1925 that it earned its nickname. Sports columnist Bill Corum referred to the derby as the "Run for the Roses," and the rest was history. The nickname stuck, and to this day, the derby is referred to as such.
More than 400 red roses are used in the creation of the famed rose garland draped across the winning jockey's lap. The roses are sewn onto green satin, and the garland weighs more than 40 pounds.
In the center of the magnificent rose garland is the rose "crown." A single rose is in the center, pointing up and symbolizing the heart and struggle of the race. The number of roses in the crown is determined by the number of horses competing that year.
The coveted trophy is a work of art. It is made with 14-karat gold and has a jade base. It is topped with an 18-karat horse and rider and is presented to the owner of whichever horse wins the Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby is one for tradition. It is always held on the same day. Since 1931, the derby has always taken place on the first Saturday in May. The celebration has grown to more than just the one day. There are parties held through the week prior to the race.
The fastest winner in the Kentucky Derby's history was Secretariat. The famed horse ran the race in a record-shattering 1:59:40 in 1973. His record is still standing.
It is definitely a predominantly male race, but a few female horses have managed to break through the barrier. Only three fillies have ever won the Kentucky Derby: Regret won in 1915, Genuine Risk won in 1980 and Winning Colors won in 1988.
Pictured: Winning Colors (right)
While other sporting events have had delays or cancellations, the Kentucky Derby can proudly say that it never has. Since its founding in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has happened rain or shine.
The derby has many traditions and strange occurrences. One of which is that no horse has ever won the race from post position No. 17. Maybe this year will break that streak!
The Twin Spires that sit atop Churchill Downs were not originally part of 24-year-old Joseph Dominc Baldez's design. They were constructed in 1895 after Baldez decided that the roofline needed a little something extra. The spires are almost as famous as the race, with tourists flocking there from around the world to take a picture beneath them.
Although the Kentucky Derby holds the honor of being the longest-running sports event in the U.S., it's actually the youngest of the three horse races that comprise the Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes began in 1867, and the Preakness Stakes began in 1873. The Kentucky Derby did not begin until 1875, but it is by far the most popular race among the three.
The Kentucky Derby is a place to see and be seen. Throughout the years, the women who attend the race go above and beyond with their fashion choices. The hats, specifically, are what to look for. They have become more elaborate as the years go on.
The youngest jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby was Alonzo Clayton. He raced on Azra in 1892. Clayton was only 15 when he won!
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