National Kentucky Derby Day

In May, millions of people make the trip to Louisville to watch the Kentucky Derby. Learn about this popular day as we take a look at the history of this popular horse race.

black and white photo of a jockey who is sitting on a fenceand his horse

When is Kentucky Derby Day?

It’s on the first Saturday in May. It is celebrated at the end of the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. 

  • May 7th, 2022
  • May 6, 2023
  • May 4, 2024
  • May 3, 2025
  • May 2, 2026

Where is it?

The Kentucky Derby is a horse race held annually in Louisville, Kentucky at Churchill Downs,  is a horse racing complex located on Central Avenue in south Louisville.

A Brief History of the Derby

The Derby was started in 1874 when Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, formed the Louisville Jockey Club to help raise money for building a horse racing track right outside the city of Louisville. The track became Churchill Downs, named after John and Henry Churchill who donated the land on which they built the track.

When did it start?

The first race was on May 17th, 1875.

Out of fifteen horses, (in front of a crowd of 10,000 spectators) Aristides races 1.5 miles to win!

For a more comprehensive history visit here.

Famous traditions of the Kentucky Derby?

What is the theme song?

My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!

What drink is associated with the derby?

The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Each year, almost 120,000 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack.

What is the motto of the race?

It is called “The Run for the Roses”, because they drape a blanket of roses over the winner. It is also called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” or “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” because it only lasts around two minutes!

How can I watch the race?

You can always go to Louisville and watch the race in person! Check here for tickets.

Or you can watch it live on TV.


What breed of horses race in the derby?

The Kentucky Derby is restricted to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, male or female, so a can only run the race once in their lives.

Which horse is the most famous?

The most famous horse of all that have raced in the Kentucky Derby, is probably Secretariat who won in 1973 and who still holds the Derby record, finishing the race in 1:59:40. Because Secretariat went on to win the Triple Crown, the stallion remains a household name to this day.

What is the distance of the famous race?

The Kentucky Derby Is Set At 1 And 1/4 Miles Long

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