Track Bias: The track consists of a long starting chute leading onto an oval track with long straights front and back and 2 fairly tight bends. With large fields there is a tendency for the field to stack up around the last turn and horses running wide are disadvantaged. It is hard to lead all the way but close to the lead and close to the rail gives a horse the best chance, they need to sustain a high pressure run in the long final stretch.
History: The initial running of the race coincided with the opening of the Churchill Downs race track in 1875. It has increased in popularity to the point it is regarded as the top race for 3yr olds and the most important racing event in the USA. Traditions have grown over the years and now Mint Juleps and roses are part of the day with a blanket of roses being hung over the winner’s back. The race is often called The Run for the Roses but the trainer of the 2008 victor Big Brown raised some eyebrows when he stopped the blanket draping and explained that his horse hated flowers. Over time some of the most famous horses on the world stage first got noticed in this race. In 1964 Northern Dancer set a race record time of 2 minutes flat for the race. He raced for only 2 years but won 14 of 18 starts, placing in those he missed. At stud he left a legacy of superb racehorses and breeding stock which have had an impact on worldwide thoroughbred breeding ever since. In 1973 a new race record was run by Secretariat, unbeaten to this day. Secretariat also sired some outstanding progeny including Kingston Rule who won the Melbourne Cup 1990 in record time (still unbeaten,) and in 2010 Secretariat became the subject of a film. The Derby is the first leg of the US Triple Crown Challenge and is followed by the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Past Triple Crown Winners: Sir Barton 1919, Galllant Fox 1930, Omaha 1935, War Admiral 1937, Whirlaway 1941, Count Fleet1943, Assault 1946, Citation 1948, Secretariat 1973, Seattle Slew 1977, Affirmed 1978.
Lead Up Form: 5 horses have won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes as 2 yr olds and then the Kentucky Derby as did Super Saver in 2009, Big Brown 2008, (coming off a win in the Florida Derby as did his Great Grand Sire and Great Dam Sire Northern Dancer) and Thunder Gulch 1995.
Related Races: Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and Preakness.
Statistics & Trends: Only 3 fillies have won the race and none since Winning Colors in 1988. Several winners have moved on to legendary stud careers such as Secretariat, Sunday Silence and Northern Dancer.
Betting on racing at Churchill Downs, including the Kentucky Derby, is available from online bookmakers Sportsbet.com.au.
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