The 2017 Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 6, and we have a guide to everything you need to know about the 143-year-old event. That's right, the Kentucky Derby has been happening for 143 years. File away that trivia answer for your Derby party.
If you already know all about "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports," and just want to know what time the race starts and how to watch, we've got you covered here. But if you want to know a little Derby history like past winners, records and traditions, you've come to the right place. If you're asking questions like, "What is the Kentucky Derby," you should probably read everything. Regardless, here's everything you need to know about the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
What is the Kentucky Derby?
The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, and is followed by the Preakness Stakes on May 20 and the Belmont Stakes on June 10.
The 1 1/4-mile race runs on a dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Twenty horses enter the Derby, which is one of the largest fields in horse racing. To qualify for the Derby, horses and their jockies travel on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of 35 races that features a point system. The top four finishers at those races earn points and the top 20 horses at the 35 races earn a spot in the starting post in the Kentucky Derby race.
History of the Kentucky Derby
The 143-year-old event has been going on since 1875. In its first race, approximately 10,000 spectators watched. Now as many 150,000 pack into Churchill Downs to take in the famous race.
The race made its radio broadcast debut in 1925 that drew about 5 million to 6 million listeners. From there, the race made its telecast debut locally in 1949 before garnering national television coverage in 1952.
The race has been nicknamed the "Run for the Roses" as the winner is given a garland of more than 400 red roses sewn together. That's a tradition that dates back to 1932, and roses were first linked to the Derby in 1896 when Derby winner Ben Brush received an arrangement of white and pink roses. After the red rose became the official flower of the Derby in 1906, the garland that exists today was introduced and given to Derby winner Burgoo King in 1932.
One of the famous landmarks at Churchill Downs is the Twin Spires that sit atop the grandstands. The Twin Spires were constructed in 1895 by designer Joseph Dominic Baldez.
Secretariat, arguably the best thoroughbred horse of all-time, still holds the Kentucky Derby record at 1:59.40, set in 1973. You can see more Kentucky Derby records and all-time leaders here.
Kentucky Derby winners
There have been 142 winners of the Kentucky Derby, but here's a glance at the horses that have won since 2000.
Previous Kentucky Derby winners
2000: Fusaichi Pegasus, 2:01.12
2001: Monarchos, 1:59.97
2002: War Emblem, 2:01.13
2003: Funny Cide, 2:01.19
2004: Smarty Jones, 2:04.06
2005: Giacomo, 2:02.75
2006: Barbaro, 2:01.36
2007: Street Sense, 2:02.17
2008: Big Brown, 2:01.82
2009: Mine That Bird, 2:02.66
2010: Super Saver, 2:04.45
2011: Animal Kingdom, 2:02.04
2012: I'll Have Another, 2:01.83
2013: Orb, 2:02.89
2014: California Chrome, 2:03.66
2015: American Pharoah, 2:03.02
2016: Nyquist, 2:01.31
Odds to win the 2017 Kentucky Derby
Classic Empire and Always Dreaming were early co-favorites to win this year's Kentucky Derby, but Classic Empire jumped ahead after the post time draw. With no clear-cut favorite, could we see another longshot winner at the Derby? The odds will be updated several times leading up to the race, but here are the odds as of May 3, via Vegas Insider:
Kentucky Derby contenders, odds
Irish War Cry
Lookin At Lee
Thunder Snow (IRE)
J Boys Echo
State of Honor
Battle of Midway
Fast and Accurate
Prize Money & Winnings
The Kentucky Derby winning purse is $2 million, and the winner takes home an estimated $1.24 million.
When and where is the 2017 Kentucky Derby?
The Kentucky Derby is always held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. This year, it falls on May 6 and the Kentucky Oaks will run earlier that day.
Post time for the 2017 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for 6:34 p.m. ET. The actual race is scheduled to start at 6:46 p.m. and will only last about two minutes or so.
Kentucky Derby 2017 TV schedule, coverage
You can watch the Kentucky Derby on NBC, which will have TV coverage from 2:30-7:20 p.m. ET. Other pre-race coverage can be found on NBC Sports Network: "Derby Access" from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, May 4; the Kentucky Oaks 143 from 12-6:20 p.m. on Friday, May 5; and the Kentucky Derby Undercard from 12-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 6.
The Kentucky Derby will also be streamed online this year via NBC Sports Live Extra or through the NBC Sports app. The NBC Sports app is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Microsoft Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Amazon Fire and Chromecast.
Other Triple Crown horse races
The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, and is followed by the Preakness Stakes on May 20 and the Belmont Stakes on June 10. The Preakness, first run in 1873, takes place at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The Belmont Stakes, first run in 1867, is the oldest of the Triple Crown events and takes place at Belmont Park on Long Island in Elmont, NY.
There have been 12 Triple Crown winners (winning all three races in the same year) in thoroughbred racing, with the most recent coming in 2015 when American Pharoah completed the sweep. There have also been several near-misses in the Triple Crown over the years.