More Than Hats and Mint Juleps: Kentucky Derby History You Need to Know


Since 1875, the Churchill Downs has held the Kentucky Derby. 

Kentucky Derby’s history is full of famous attendees, from Presidents, movie stars, and royalty to average people who want to see the best race in America.

While you may have watched the Kentucky Derby before, you might not know all the history behind the Derby. Here are some things about the history of the Kentucky Derby you might not know.

The Kentucky Derby has a history that stretches back almost nearly 150 years. It is the longest-running sporting event in United States history and has an audience that comes from around the globe to see it. Famous horses like Secretariat have had movies made about them, and the jockeys that ride these horses gain renown.

The Lewis and Clark Connection

The grandson of William Clark, named Meriwether Clark in honor of Meriwether Lewis, started the event after coming back from Europe. While over there, he had seen the races held in England and had spoken to the French Jockey Club as well.

Roses for the Winner

It was Mr. Clark who gave the first winner of the Derby a bouquet of roses. Since then, the tradition of giving out roses has become as much a symbol of the Derby as drinking mint juleps. This tradition hasn’t changed in all the history of the Derby, even during the Great Depression.

The Race Must Go On

The Kentucky Derby has never been canceled. During the height of World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, the race was held. Nothing could keep the race from being held. The race has always been a constant reminder of pomp and exceptionalism in the history of America.

A Most Expensive Drink 

While the fact that mint juleps are the drink of choice at the Derby is no mystery, you may not realize how much they can cost. While the average mint julep is served for $15, if you want to get fancy, you can. Commemorative, etched glass cups are offered with the drink served for $2,500.

A History of Betting

Betting on horse races has happened for a long time, probably since the first horse races. The Kentucky Derby is no exception, betting has been a mainstay of the event since it started. Back then they did things a bit different, today we have Kentucky Derby betting sites that offer up stakes on the event.

Kentucky Derby History Lives On Every Year

The Kentucky Derby history is full of famous people and expensive wagers, but you can watch for very little. Even if you want until the day of the event, you can still get tickets for $80 dollars. This makes the Derby one of the most affordable major sporting events held in the United States.

If you do decide to bet on the races, or just go and watch them, remember that you are becoming a part of history. Each Kentucky Derby goes down as a unique and amazing race, and the entire day is full of fun. Prepare to sing and wear a big hat, and you will have all the fun you can handle.

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