And they’re off!

The Kentucky Derby begins Saturday, May 6th at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. In just a matter of hours, the stands will be decorated with big hats as the sweet smell of Mint Julep fills the air. 142 years of tradition culminates in one, fast-paced weekend. Today, we honor that tradition with these fun Kentucky Derby facts!

  1. Longest Running | The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the U.S.. It began May 17th, 1875. The debut race featured fifteen horses and a crowd of 10,000. (

    May, 1993 (Photo credit should read LIZ SWEARINGEN/AFP/Getty Images)

  2. Secretariat is the Fastest | In 1973, Secretariat ran the Derby’s fastest time with a time of 1:59.40. (
  3. 120,000 Mint Juleps | Nearly 120,000 Mint Juleps are served every year at the Derby. Those Juleps require 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice. (
  4. 18th Century Mint Julep | The Mint Julep was created in Louisiana in the 18th century. As time went on and the recipe traveled the South, it became very popular in Kentucky and later became the official drink of the Derby. (

    (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

  5. 95% of the World’s Bourbon | Kentucky produces 95% of the world’s bourbon. (
  6. Weird Horse Names | Horse names must be registered with the Jockey Club, a club with very strict standards. 60,000 names are submitted each year, and nearly one third of those are rejected. Some restrictions include: the name couldn’t have been used by a previous horse, it can’t be longer than 18 letters, the name can’t include initials and it can’t be the name of a real person unless the horse’s owner has written authorization to use the name, just to name a few. (

    Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

  7. Why the Hats? | Courtney Stinson, public relations manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum, told USAToday that when the Derby first began, “They went around to all of the women’s clubs in town and invited the women to dress up in their finest to come to the Derby. … In that period, of course, the hat was essential, and the hat just carried through.”

Happy racing!


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