The Kentucky Derby, presented by Woodford Reserve, is a top rank, Grade I stakes race for 3 year old Thoroughbred horses. The race distance is one and one-quarter miles long, and it is run on the dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Colts and geldings in the race carry 126 pounds (57 kg), and fillies in the race carry 121 pounds (55 kg).
20 horses compete in the Kentucky Derby, which is a larger field size than most horse races; where on average 8 horses race against one another. The 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby must first travel along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which is a series of 35 races taking place at tracks across the country and the world. Points are awarded to the top 4 horses that finish in each of those 35 races, and the 20 horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby race. The Kentucky Derby winning purse is $3 million.
The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May every year, and typically draws a crowd of 155,000 people. It is the longest continually held sporting event in America, and it is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, the Kentucky Derby receives this nickname from the approximate length of time it takes the winner to run from the starting gate to the finish line. The Kentucky Derby is the first race within the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race.
Learn more about the life of horses preparing to race on the First Saturday In May with this Kentucky Derby 101 series.