Kentucky Derby 2018 Cheat Sheet

Every year, the Kentucky Derby attracts celebrities, athletes, horse racing fanatics, and everyday folks who enjoy putting on a fancy hat (it’s considered good luck to wear one to the Derby) and sip a mint julep (120,000 will be served over a two-day period). The attendees number more than 155,000, larger than a Super Bowl, World Series, or NBA Final Four.

Held in Louisville, KY at Churchill Downs every year on the first Saturday in May, this year will mark the 144th time the race has been run and is the longest consecutively-held sporting event in history. 

It’s the first leg of the Triple Crown (which also includes the Preakness and the Belmont) but the last time a horse won all three legs was in 2015 and was American Pharaoh. Horses qualify at a series of races prior to the Kentucky Derby.

The top three horses going into this year’s race are Magnum Moon, Good Magic, and Audible, although Justify is favored to win. He may not have much luck as he didn’t race as a two-year-old and therefore has the “Curse of Apollo” on him -- Apollo won in 1882 and is the only horse to ever win the Derby without racing as a two-year-old.

The race is known both as the “Run for the Roses” because of the blanket of roses draped over the winner (numbering more than 400), and “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” a reference to the average length of the event. The fastest time ever was Secretariat in 1973 at 1:59.4 minutes.

The race is 1.25 miles long, features 20 three-year-old Thoroughbreds and the winning purse is $2 million.

While the actual horse race is the most notable event, the Kentucky Derby caps off a two-week festival that includes fireworks, a marathon, hot-air balloon events, a steamboat race, a parade, and another horse race.

Sources: Wikipedia,, Washington Post, ESPN, Sports Illustrated