Kentucky Derby

Taking a look back at the first Kentucky Derby nearly 150 years ago

Saturday will mark the 150th running of horse racing's most prestigious race.

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The longest running sporting event in the United States is also one of the shortest.

The Kentucky Derby takes only about two minutes to complete, which is why it's known as "The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports."

Those two minutes have been run each and every year since 1875, making this year's edition the 150th running of the prestigious horse race.

It's known now as the first jewel of the Triple Crown, and of course, the "Run for the Roses."  

But, when the Derby first began, the term "Triple Crown" was not commonly used, and horses were not even running for roses. Not that we know of, at least. The first recorded account of draping a rose blanket over the winning thoroughbred was in 1896, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

Those are some of the many changes that have occurred over the years at Churchill Downs, which, by the way, was called The Louisville Jockey Club and Driving Park when it hosted the first Derby.

Here's everything you need to know about the first running of the Kentucky Derby:

How did the Kentucky Derby start?

The Kentucky Derby was started by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., the grandson of famed Lewis and Clark Expedition explorer William Clark.

While traveling in Europe in 1872, Clark Jr. was inspired by England's Epsom Downs racecourse, according to When he returned to Kentucky, he founded the Louisville Jockey Club and raised money to build a racetrack on land donated by his uncles, Henry and John Churchill.

What would later become known as Churchill Downs opened its gates in 1875. It's the grounds, not the infrastructure, where the history lies. All original structures were first replaced by 1896 and have undergone many changes since.

When was the first Kentucky Derby?

The first Kentucky Derby was run on May 17, 1875.

Unlike in modern day, when the prestigious race has long been run on the first Saturday of May, the inaugural Derby was held on a Monday.

Approximately 10,000 spectators attended the event, with admission to the track costing as little as a dollar, according to the Courier-Journal. Bets were made through bookmakers, per the Lexington Herald Leader, and women were discouraged from placing wagers.

Who won the first Kentucky Derby?

The winning horse in the first Kentucky Derby was Aristides, who won by two lengths in a time of 2:37.75

Fifteen three-year-old Thoroughbreds entered to run in the race, which was held on a 1.5-mile track, a quarter-mile longer than the traditional distance established in 1896.

Of the 15 jockeys competing in the race, 13 were Black. That included Oliver Lewis, who guided Aristides to victory.

Volcano finished second and Verdigris came in third.

How much did the first Kentucky Derby winner get?

The winner of the first Kentucky Derby received $2,850, which equates to roughly $70,000 today, according to Horse Racing Radio Network. The second-place finisher received $200.

The winner in Saturday's Kentucky Derby will earn $3.1 million. The second-place finisher will take home $1 million and the third-place finisher will receive $500,000.

Here's everything you need to know about the 150th iteration of the Kentucky Derby, known as the fastest two minutes in sports.
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