Kentucky Derby 2019
Kentucky Derby 2019
The air warms, everything is green again. Here in Kentucky that can only mean one thing. Yes! It’s Derby time! If you aren’t familiar with this annual tradition, the Kentucky Derby probably seems like a random horse race that is nationally broadcast for some reason. The reality is that for this area, it is one of the most vibrant times of the year. The entire city of Louisville is lively for two weeks! Area businesses post “Derby Hours” while people from all over the world come to experience what the region has to offer. The longest running sporting event in America, the Kentucky Derby’s tradition has been here since 1875!
William Clark’s (of Louis & Clark) grandson brought the idea home from Europe and endeavored to create a grand spectacle centered around horse racing. John and Henry Churchill gifted Clark the land and in 1875 the fifteen-horse field ran the first Derby in front of 10,000 spectators. In fact, the Derby predates the “Churchill Downs” name. Many changes over the years including shortening the distance, decreasing the minimum bet, and the growing popularity has transformed this two-minute race into a multi-week celebration of Southern culture and hospitality.
Celebrities descend on Louisville during this time and attend fabulous galas. Schools host stick pony races. The Kentucky Derby Festival organizes countless events and there really is something for everyone. From steamboats to beds, there are races to be found. Hot air balloons, concerts, golf contests and parades highlight the never-ending events. Whatever your interest, the Kentucky Derby Festival has something for you!
Derby day itself is an unofficial regional holiday. Millions are wagered on the race, which is only one of fourteen races at Churchill Downs that day. The gates open at 8:00am and wagering starts at 10:00. The rich and famous can be seen walking the red carpet in the early afternoon. Before the race begins, you can sing “My Old Kentucky Home” with 160,000 of your closest friends! The scene is frantic as the field of twenty horses battle to be the winner, celebrated and draped in a garland of roses! With a purse of 2 million dollars on the line, the winning owner gets $1.24 million! The jockeys of the top finishers get a nice payday as well! While nothing is as exhilarating as “the most exciting two minutes in sports”, this season is bursting with fun for all!
For further reading: