Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks records

Apr 29, 2018 Jennifer Caldwell/

With the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1) just a week away, now would be a good time to look at some of the records currently on the books.

First up, the KENTUCKY OAKS. After all, it does take place first.

The fastest running of the Kentucky Oaks came in 2003 when Bird Town covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.64. The current track record of 1:47.28 for that distance at Churchill Downs was established by Victory Gallop in 1999.

The longest-winning margin of 20 1/4 lengths for the Kentucky Oaks came courtesy of Rachel Alexandra, who would go on to take the Preakness Stakes (G1) two weeks later and defeat the boys twice more during her unbeaten, Horse of the Year sophomore campaign.

The decade with the most Kentucky Oaks winners who would go on to earn an Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old filly is hands down the 2000s (various nicknames include the “00s,” the “double zeros,” the “double ohs,” the “noughties,” the “aughts” and the “oughties”). During the un-nameable decade, six Kentucky Oaks winners – Rachel Alexandra, Proud Spell, Rags to Riches, Ashado, Bird Town and Farda Amiga – would claim championship honors at the age of three.

Now, on to the KENTUCKY DERBY.

The great, immortal Secretariat still holds the record for the fastest Kentucky Derby run at 1 1/4 miles. In 1973, “Big Red” captured the Run for the Roses in 1:59.40 and set both a stakes and track record in the process.

Four horses share the honor for the largest winning margin of the Kentucky Derby of eight lengths – Old Rosebud (1914), Johnstown (1939), Whirlaway (1941) and Assault (1946).

Since the 1970s, only two Kentucky Derby winners have gone on to sire Kentucky Derby winners – Unbridled and Seattle Slew. Before the 1970s, nine Derby-winning sires saw their sons prevail in the same race.

Unbridled captured the 1990 Run for the Roses and saw his son Grindstone accomplish the same feat in 1996. Seattle Slew scored in the 1977 Kentucky Derby en route to sweeping the Triple Crown and seven years later saw Swale win both the Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1984.

However, in the 143-year history of the Kentucky Derby, only one Derby-winning sire has managed to sire two victors of the race – Bold Venture. The 1936 Kentucky Derby winner sired 1946 Triple Crown hero Assault as well as 1950 Derby conqueror Middleground.

The biggest crowd for the Kentucky Derby was recorded in 2015 when 170,513 watched American Pharoah begin his Triple Crown-winning bid with a one-length score.

Two jockeys share the honor of having earned the most wins in the Kentucky Derby with five apiece – Eddie Arcaro (1938, ’41, ’45, ’48, ’52) and Bill Hartack (1957, ’60, ’62, ’64, ’69).

The trainer with the most Kentucky Derby victories is Ben Jones, who racked up six (1938, ’41, ‘44, ‘48, ‘49, ‘52).

Kentucky is, by far, the most common birthplace of Kentucky Derby winners with 109.

And finally, since Churchill Downs began using a starting gate in 1930, only one post position has not produced a Kentucky Derby winner – post 17. Post 5 has the most Derby winners (10) followed by Post 10 (nine).

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