Five Fun Facts About the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Other Apr 26, 2021

The 147th annual "running of the roses" will burst out of the starting gate this Saturday.  

This might very well be the most exciting two minutes in sports, but the real fun lies in the days before and the week leading up to the big race analyzing the entries and debating which horse will win.

Now, no matter where you live, regardless of which state or country, you can bet on the race.  For those who live in Canada, SPREADS.CA offers the following odds in anticipation of the big race:


Here are some facts you may not know about the Kentucky Derby and the pageantry of horseracing's most anticipated annual event.

Fun Fact #1:  The Kentucky Derby is one of the oldest sporting events in North America.

Usually held on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious thoroughbred stakes horseraces in the world.  Think of the World Cup.  Or, the Super Bowl.  Or, the Olympic Games.  The Derby is that and much more, for horses (and those who not only bet them but enjoy the majesty of the tradition).  Initially run in 1875 just a decade after the American Civil War, this 1-1/4-mile (10 furlongs) race is the first of three legs of the famed Triple Crown of horse racing.

Fun Fact #2:  The Kentucky Derby has always been run at Churchill Downs.

The Derby is set for Saturday, May 1, 2021, with live TV and online coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. EST on NBC-related networks, and several other platforms online.  The Kentucky Derby is run on a dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, where it's been held since its first running 147 years ago.  Kentucky is America's breeding ground for the best racehorses, so it's natural the Derby is held in the Bluegrass State.

Fun Fact #3:  Horses get just one shot to run in the Derby.

Only three-year-old Thoroughbreds can qualify to run in the Kentucky Derby. So, that means horses only have one shot to win. Eligible horses compete in a series of prep races held around the world, though most take place in North America. Horses accumulate points for finishing in the top four spots of these prep races.  At the prescribed deadline, the 20 horses with the most points at the end of the series gain entry into the Derby. In cases of injuries or other incidents that result in a scratch, the next ranked horses (alternates) get invites.

Fun Fact #4:  Last year due to COVID, the Kentucky Derby took place four months after its original scheduled date.

Authentic, a colt trained by Bob Baffert crossed the finish line first following a stretch-run duel with the heavy betting favorite, Tiz the Law.  So, Authentic ended up as the winner of the 146th Kentucky Derby. Due to COVID restrictions and safety concerns, for the first time, the race was run on the first Saturday in September instead of the usual first Saturday in May. The win marked Hall of Famer Baffert’s sixth career Kentucky Derby win and the third for Authentic’s proud jockey -- John Velazquez.

Fun Fact #5:  The Kentucky Derby is much more than a horse race and sporting event – it's more about tradition.

The race is much more than a festival for horses and gamblers.  It's all about the tradition and the pageantry.  Colorful formal outfits for both men and women are common in the stands at the Kentucky Derby (however, last year's race did not include spectators). Most racetracks are frequented by ordinary people who dress casually. But the Derby always attracts celebrities and even non-fans. In fact, hats and outfits are such a big part of the Kentucky Derby that the Derby Museum has a whole exhibit for the most lavished fashions. As for the celebration, the Mint Julep which is made with Kentucky bourbon is the favorite drink of the Derby.  When horses come out on the track for the first time, Kentucky’s official state song My Old Kentucky Home is played during what's called the pre-race post parade. After the race is over, the winning horse is given a large wreath of roses inside the winner’s circle -- which is why it's called "the run for the roses."