Probably the most famous horse race in the United States and "America's oldest, continuously held major sporting event"1. The Derby was first run in 1875 and was originally 1 1/2 miles long, but the length was shortened in 1896 to 1 1/4 miles. The Derby is also the first step in horse racing's Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Run on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, the race is over a dirt track and only open to three-year-old horses. Historically, most of the entries have been colts, although the occasional filly runs and, rarely, wins. An alternate race for fillies only, the Kentucky Oaks, is run the day before the Derby. Colts carry 126 pounds; fillies carry 121 pounds. The record time of 1:59 2/5 was set by Secretariat in 1973.

Spectators at the Kentucky Derby often dress formally and extravagantly. Mint juleps are the traditional drink. Since the 1920's the song "My Old Kentucky Home" has been played during the post parade. The winning horse is draped with a blanket of roses in the Winner's Circle, giving the race its other name: "The Run for the Roses".

Winners of the Kentucky Derby:

1. Churchill Downs website