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The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875.
The race is often referred to as "The Run for the Roses®" and has continuously produced “the most exciting two minutes in sports”; uninterrupted, even when coinciding with profound historical events like The Great Depression and World Wars I & II.
1875 – The first Kentucky Derby race takes place on May 17th.
Aristides races 1.5 miles to win, in a field of fifteen horses, in front of a crowd of 10,000 spectators.
The Kentucky Derby’s long history began in 1872, when Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of William Clark – of the famed pair Lewis and Clark – traveled to Europe.
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You’ll learn about special events in the history of the Kentucky Derby, like legendary horse performances, record-setting race facts and significant changes in the celebration of the Kentucky Derby.
1874 – Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark forms the Louisville Jockey Club and acquires land for racetrack from his uncles John & Henry Churchill.
1883 – Leonatus wins the Derby, and the name “Churchill Downs” is first used to landmark the racetrack that is the home of the Kentucky Derby.
1889 – Bookmakers demand that Colonel Clark remove pari-mutuel betting machines, because they are cutting into the bookmakers profits. 1894 – Due to the growing crowd size, a 285-foot grandstand is constructed to accommodate race fans. 1895 – The famed Twin Spires greet the Kentucky Derby crowd, on May 6th. 1896 – It is thought that the distance of the Derby race is too long for three year old Thoroughbreds that early in the spring, so the distance of the Derby race is shortened from one and a half miles to one and a quarter miles.