The Kentucky Derby is a longstanding, time-honored American tradition with both a dignified past and an exciting and prestigious present. From its humble beginnings more than 130 years ago, it has grown from a rural horse race into a cherished event eagerly anticipated by thousands of people worldwide. Also known as The Run for the Roses because of the blanket of roses that is laid on the winner, the popular race attracts nearly 150,000 avid fans every year. The crowd of aficionados usually includes celebrities, politicians, royals and even, occasionally, a sitting president. And, of course, for thousands of everyday people, it's the must-attend event of the year.
Limited to thoroughbreds who are three years old, the 1.25 mile race is run every year at the Kentucky Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. The race is traditionally held on the first Saturday of May and comes at the end of the Kentucky Derby Festival, a weeks-long celebration that includes parties, fireworks and riverboat races. The roster of past Derby winners includes such illustrious names as Black Gold, Secretariat and Seattle Slew.
The idea for a racecourse in Kentucky came from Meriwether Clark, Jr., the grandson of the famous explorer, William Clark. He had watched horse races in Europe and wanted a prestigious race course where American horse breeders could run their animals. Along with a group of supporters, Clark built the Churchill Downs racetrack. The first Kentucky Derby was held there on May 17, 1875, before an audience of 10,000 spectators.
Fifteen horses competed in the first Derby, and when it was over, the winner's wreath was hung around the neck of a thoroughbred colt by the name of Aristides. At that time, the course was a mile and a half long. It wasn't until 1896 that the race was changed to its present-day length. By the 1900's, the Kentucky Derby, along with the Belmont Stakes in New York and the Preakness in Maryland, had became known as the Triple Crown.
Today, the Kentucky Derby is an exciting venue for professional breeders and amateur enthusiasts alike, with many participating in the two-week-long festival that proceeds the race. Shop early if you hope to buy cheap Kentucky Derby tickets: Ticket sales for the next year start as soon as one year's race is over.
The infield at the Kentucky Downs racetrack is known for its party atmosphere. Packed with nearly 80,000 revelers during the Derby, the infield is the place to be if you're in the mood for fun. If you're young, or simply young at heart, grab your Derby hat and your Mint Julep and join the party. You can find Kentucky Derby infield tickets here.
Whether you're a longtime fan of horse racing, or you've just been bitten by the racing bug, the Kentucky Derby is the crown jewel of horse racing in America. Buying your tickets to the Kentucky Derby is the first step in planning the horse race experience of a lifetime.