The Kentucky Derby has a history with the U.S. that's longer than any other sporting event to date, and it's also considered to be one of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world. Its reputation is so prevalent that it has inspired movies and an entire culture surrounds the events, from wearing specific hats to preparing certain foods and drinks prior to watching it. What's truly incredible about the sporting event, though, is whereas other sports such as football or baseball can last hours, the Kentucky Derby lasts no more than two minutes. Because of this, it has also gained the reputation of being the most exciting two minutes in all of sports.


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Whether or not you watch the Kentucky Derby or are an avid fan of horse racing, there's no denying that there's a certain fascination surrounding it. There's something intriguing about an event that seems so short, is over so quickly, but is so immediately intense in those 120 seconds, that catches people's attention. Even those who don't know a thing about the Kentucky Derby find themselves at the edge of their seats watching this grand race. So, what's there to know about it? As it turns out, there's plenty.

How Old, Exactly, Is The Kentucky Derby?

If we're being specific, 146 years, exactly. The Kentucky Derby was started in 1875 by Meriwether Lewis Clark. The goal of starting this type of horse derby in the U.S. was to mimic the bigger event, the Epsom Derby, that was done in England every year. As with many things that have become a tradition in the U.S., they were brought over or inspired by other countries, and the Kentucky Derby, while wholly American in style, was actually inspired by England's tradition.

Believe it or not, the Kentucky Derby was not immediately successful, either. While it's overwhelmingly popular now with more than 155,000 guests attending the race annually, it was initially slow to start. With national programming, millions of people each year also have access to it on their TVs, which only serves to add more popularity to the event.

What Was The Fastest Race?

For starters, let's go over some stats about the Kentucky Derby. While the racetrack once spanned a distance of a mile and a half, it was shortened to a mile and a quarter in 1896. It has remained that distance for over a century now, and it's around this mile and a quarter that the most exciting two minutes of the Kentucky Derby happens.

Secondly, while many people think the Kentucky Derby is the race, it's actually only one of three races around which the entire event surrounds. The second two are the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, and the horse that wins all three is known as the Triple Crown winner. Many people will probably remember the news that surrounded American Pharoah, the last horse to win the Triple Crown back in 2015 - there has yet to be another Triple Crown winner since. While American Pharoah was the last Triple Crown winner, his race time was not the fastest - that honor belongs to Secretariat. He won the Triple Crown in 1973 and also came away from all three races with the fastest recorded speed of 1:59:40, just under the average of two minutes. To date, this is still the time to beat and Secretariat still holds the reputation of being one of the greatest horses to ever race in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

Official Songs And Drinks Are Part Of It

In Kentucky, the Derby is quite a big day, and it's commemorated by a multitude of things. The first is the official song, which is 'My Old Kentucky Home' by Stephen Collins Fosters. Even those who aren't familiar with Kentucky and its traditions will probably know this song if they're avid Derby watchers because it's performed each year before the race.

The official drink of the Kentucky Derby, if you hadn't guess already, is the Mint Julep. For what it's worth, the drink is super refreshing on a hot spring day, and the muddled mint in it gives just the right amount of punch to an otherwise plain cocktail. Bourbon, of course, is the alcohol of choice in this drink, followed by simply syrup to curve the edge.

How Big Do The Bets Grow?

It's not surprising that the Kentucky Derby has an intense number of bets, along with some incredibly high numbers. Since each year is different depending on which jockeys and horses are racing, the average for bets is usually in the millions. For example, Churchill Downs reels in roughly $130 million, according to BetFirm.

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