We had finally arrived in Louisville Kentucky after 4 weeks on the road. Mom toured Churchill Downs first, because I was not allowed inside the tracks. I was really bummed! We were in Louisville for 3 days only so I was anxious to see the sights. Mom came through and took me to the historic race track on our last day in town.
I was amazed! To me Churchill Downs looked huge but we were visiting on a Sunday so just a few tourists were around. A huge, gigantic statue of the horse Barbaro was out front. Barbaro won the 2006 Kentucky Derby and was on his way to winning the Triple Crown, but shattered his leg in the Preakness Stakes two weeks after the Derby win. After multiple surgeries, he was euthanized on Jan 29, 2007. Such a sad story but so great that a huge statue of his running is outside Churchill Downs entrance. A group of really nice women offered to take my pic with my mom in front of Barbaro’s statue. I was slightly scared so mom had to hold 🙂
Some notable facts about the Kentucky Derby…
- It is called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”
- It is a grade I stakes race for three-year old Thoroughbred horses
- The race is one and a quarter miles
- Colts and geldings carry 126 lbs
- Fillies carry 121 lbs
- Also known as “The Run for the Roses”
- Meriwether Clark, Jr (grandson of William Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition) traveled to Europe and Paris visiting various horses races and came back to Kentucky to form the Louisville Jockey Club. The purpose was to raise money to build quality racing facilities just outside the city. The track would soon become known as “Churchill Downs”.
- Churchill Downs was named for Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr’s relatives, John and Henry Churchill, who provided land for the racetrack.
- The first Kentucky Derby was run at 1 1/2 miles but changed in 1896 to the current distance of 1 1/4 miles.
- The first derby was on May 17, 1875 with attendance of 10,000 people and 15 three-year-old horses
- Aristides was the winner of that very first Kentucky Derby
- Between 1875 and 1902, African-American jockeys won 15 of the 28 Kentucky Derby races
- African-American jockey, Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, age 15, is the youngest rider to win the Derby on May 11, 1892
- The Derby is limited to three-year-old horses – no horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without having raced at age two
- In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby (only 3 fillies have won in the 137 years of the Kentucky Derby
- May 3, 1952 was the first televised coverage of the Kentucky Derby, airing on a CBS affiliate WHAS
- In 2010, Calvin Borel became the first jockey to win 3 out of 4 consecutive Kentucky Derbys
- Secretariat won the Derby in 1973 and also the Triple Crown
- Spectacular Bid won the Derby in 1979 and numerous speed records. He also won the Preakness Stakes in 1979 but lost in the Belmont Stakes
- War Admiral won the Derby in 1937 and the Triple Crown
- Last filly to win was Winning Colors in 1988
Another notable filly is Zenyatta… she won horse of the year in 2010 – she is a winner of 19 consecutive races in a 20 race career. She retired officially on Nov 17, 2010 to Lane’s End Farm. She was bred to Bernardini in Spring 2011. She gave birth to a dark bay colt, “Baby Z” on March 8, 2012. Zenyatta had such a huge following that she has her on website, you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter (which I do!). There are some really adorable photos and movies of her and her baby. Her baby is destined for greatness and he knows it! So while Zenyatta did not win the Kentucky Derby or race in it, she is still one of the most amazing race horses, surpassed only by Secretariat.