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 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, held each May at Louisville’s historic Churchill Downs Racetrack. Yet only 36 mounts have followed up a Derby victory with a win in the Triple Crown’s second leg, the Preakness Stakes. And a mere 13 have then sealed the deal in the Belmont Stakes. That includes 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. The chance to see history is nevertheless just one element of what makes the Kentucky Derby so special.
More than 120,000 Mint Juleps are served each year, for one thing. The most fashionable headgear also 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 the event from all angles. We researched everything from betting slips and boozing to spectator fashion and stud fees in search of the best Kentucky Derby facts and stats out there.
You can check out all of our Kentucky Derby fun facts in the infographic below. We also convened a panel of industry experts to get some Derby scouting reports and insights into major issues facing horseracing.
5 Kentucky Derby Facts for 2019:
- $225.7 Million – Total amount wagered on the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
- $500 to $1,000 – Price of a high-end Kentucky Derby hat (90% of female spectators wear hats).
- 120K – Number of Mint Juleps served over Kentucky Derby weekend, requiring 1K pounds of fresh mint and 60K pounds of ice.
- 522,000 – Number of cans of beer that will be consumed. 142,000 hot dogs will be eaten.
- $1.1 Billion – Worldwide sales of thoroughbred horses in 2018.
We posed the following questions to a panel of leading horseracing experts in order to better understand both the Kentucky Derby and the equine industry more generally. You can check out their bios and responses below.
- What measures should be adopted to better protect the health and well-being of race horses?
- Would a Triple Crown winner help revive horse racing as a spectator sport in the US?
- Who do you think will win this year’s Kentucky Derby?