Some call it the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” in reference to the speed of good, old-fashioned horse power and the millions of dollars that ride on the outcome. Others call it the “run for the roses,” given the giant floral garnish donned by the fastest pair in the winner’s circle. But you probably know this annual celebration of hats, horses and hooch as the Kentucky Derby, or the first leg of the Triple Crown.
This year marks the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, held each May at Louisville’s historic Churchill Downs Racetrack. Yet only 35 mounts have followed up a Derby victory with a win in the Triple Crown’s second leg, the Preakness Stakes. And a mere 12 have then sealed the deal in the Belmont Stakes. The chance to see history is nevertheless just one element of what makes the Kentucky Derby so special.
More than 127,000 Mint Juleps are served each year, for one thing. And the most fashionable headgear is on display, as roughly 90% of female attendees embrace the time-honored tradition of big hats at the race track. It’s really just a big party. And to help get you in the spirit for this year’s festivities, we analyzed all angles of the event, from betting slips and boozing to spectator fashion and stud fees, in search of the best Kentucky Derby fun facts we could find.