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Monday, April 29, 2013

Wesley Eversole: Fun facts about Kentucky Derby – the ‘Greatest Two Minutes in Sports’

 

With the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, I thought I would take the time to share some fun and interesting facts about the race that has come to be known as “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.”

 

• The first Kentucky Derby was held on May 17, 1875, and was won by Aristides.

 

• The Kentucky Derby is the longest continuous sporting event in the United States. While the Preakness Stakes predates the Derby by two years, it was not held from 1891 to 1893. Likewise, the Belmont Stakes predates the Derby by eight years and the Preakness by six, but it was not held from 1911 to 1912.

 

• 1882 Kentucky Derby winner Apollo is the most recent horse to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced at age 2.

 

• In 1892, Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton became the youngest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby at age 15.

 

• In 1904, Laska Durnell became the first female owner to win the Kentucky Derby with Elwood.

 

• In 1915, Regret became the first of three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby. The other two were Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winning Colors in 1988.

 

• In 1917, Omar Khayyam of England became the first foreign-born horse to win the Kentucky Derby.

 

• In 1919, Sir Barton became the first horse to win all three Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes) in the same year, although the term “Triple Crown” would not be used until Gallant Fox became the second horse to accomplish the feat in 1930.

 

• Man O’ War, who won both the 1920 Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, did not run in the Kentucky Derby.

 

• In both 1917 and 1922, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were held on the same day, making a Triple Crown bid in those years impossible.

 

• The tradition of playing “My Old Kentucky Home” before the Kentucky Derby began in 1924.

 

• The 1925 Kentucky Derby was the first to be broadcast on live radio by WHAS in Louisville and WGN in Chicago.

 

• 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox is the only Triple Crown winner to sire another Triple Crown winner (1935 winner Omaha).

 

• The mint julep was introduced in 1939.

 

• WHAS-TV, which was a CBS affiliate at the time.

 

• 1964 Kentucky Derby winner Northern Dancer is the only horse to actually win the Kentucky Derby in exactly two minutes.

 

• 1968 Kentucky Derby winner Dancer’s Image in the only horse to be disqualified after winning the Kentucky Derby due to traces of a banned substance, phenylbutazone, being found in his urine. Forward Pass was declared the official winner. The disqualification was later overturned in 1972.

 

• Since Affirmed became the 11th and latest horse to win the Triple Crown in 1978, 12 horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes but not the Belmont Stakes. Excluding 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another, who was retired the day before the Belmont due to injury, the horses that came one race short of winning the Triple Crown are, in order with their Belmont Stakes finish in parentheses: Spectacular Bid in 1979 (3rd); Pleasant Colony in 1981 (3rd); Alysheba in 1987 (4th); Sunday Silence in 1989 (2nd); Silver Charm in 1997 (2nd); Real Quiet in 1998 (2nd); Charismatic in 1999 (3rd); War Emblem in 2002 (8th); Funny Cide in 2003 (3rd); Smarty Jones in 2004 (2nd) and Big Brown in 2008 (officially scored as a DNF, or Did Not Finish).

 

• The song “Run for the Roses” was written by Dan Fogelberg for the 1982 Kentucky Derby.

 

• 1973 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winner Secretariat still hold the Derby record for fastest time at one minute, 59 and two-fifths seconds.

 

• Calvin Borel is the only jockey to win three races in a four-year span, having won aboard Street Sense in 2007, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Super Saver in 2010. After he rode 2009 Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra to a win in the Preakness Stakes, he attempted to became the first jockey to sweep a Triple Crown with multiple horses, but Mine That Bird lost to Summer Bird in that year’s Belmont Stakes.

 

• In 1995, D. Wayne Lucas became the first trainer to sweep a Triple Crown with two different horses, as Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes while Timber Country won the Preakness Stakes.

 

• 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone is the most recent horse to be retired after winning the Kentucky Derby.

 

• Besides Secretariat, the only other horses to finish the Kentucky Derby in under two minutes are 1973 second place finisher Sham (1:59 4/5) and 2001 winner Monarchos (1:59.97)

 

• The most well-known Kentucky Derby tradition -t he draping of the blanket of roses over the winner – began in 1896.

 

Wesley Eversole is a 2011 graduate of the University of Louisville’s sport administration program. He enjoys a lifelong love of sports, especially UK basketball and football. You can read more about Eversole’s pursuit of his life goals while living with Asperger’s Syndrome here.

 

 

 

 

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