Kentucky Derby Winners

In 2015, American Pharoah ended the Triple Crown drought and became the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. American’s Pharoah’s final Kentucky Derby odds were 5-2. His Triple Crown win followed a series of heartbreaking near misses, with California Chrome in 2014 winning the Derby and Preakness but fell short in the Belmont Stakes.

Nyquist, the champion two-year-old in 2015, kept his undefeated streak intact and won the Kentucky Derby in 2016 only to falter in the Preakness. I’ll Have Another won the Derby and Preakness before being scratched out of the Belmont Stakes one day before his Triple Crown bid. Popular runners such as Silver Charm and Real Quiet won the first two legs then missed by inches in the final race.

Three years after American Pharoah, Justify won the Triple Crown in 2018. Both horses were trained by Bob Baffert. While American Pharoah went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Justify was retired as the only Triple Crown winner to have a completely unbeaten career. Justify’s Kentucky Derby odds were 3-1.

Another Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, won the series in 1977 but then was defeated afterward. American Pharoah is the only horse to win both the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

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Only two winning horses have ever broken the two-minute mark at the Kentucky Derby. The legendary Secretariat still holds the record, completing 1 1/4 mile in 1:59:40 during the 1973 edition. In 2001, Monarchos came close to besting the record, becoming the second-fastest horse at the Derby with a time of 1:59:97.

Only three fillies have ever won the Derby, with the most recent being Winning Colors in 1988. Genuine Risk preceded her in 1980, while Regret won in 1915. The most recent filly to try the Run for the Roses was Eight Belles in 2008; she finished second.

Kentucky Derby Final Odds

Donerail in 1913 is the highest-priced winner in Derby history at 91-1. It wasn’t until Country House was put up at 65-1 in the 2019 Derby after the disqualification of Maximum Security that anyone else got close.

In 2005, Giacomo won the race at 50 – 1. Mine That Bird followed four years later with another 50 – 1 upset. These races were attributed to there being too much precocious speed in the race, they faded and paved the way for deep closers to upset. Since the Kentucky Derby points rules were put into place in 2012, there has not been a big upset like this save for Maximum Security’s disqualification and Country House’s promotion.

Trainer Bob Baffert has won six times, tying Ben Jones’s all-time record. The most a jockey has won is five, accomplished by both Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack. In 2010, Calvin Borel won three out of four Kentucky Derbies, following victories on Street Sense in 2007, Mine That Bird in 2009, and Super Saver in 2010.

Some of the game’s biggest trainers have only won the race once, such as Shug McGaughey in 2013 with Orb, and Bill Mott with Country House in 2019. Todd Pletcher, who trains Kentucky Derby prospects Known Agenda and Bourbonic, has won it twice.

The most expensive Kentucky Derby winner was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. The son of Mr. Prospector commanded a price of $4 million as a yearling in 1998 and won six races before being syndicated for over $60 million. In comparison, California Chrome came from a dam that cost $8,000 and a stallion that cost $2,000 and went on to earn back $14.7 million on the track.

Final entries and the post position draw for the 2020 Kentucky Derby will take place on Wednesday, April 28. The 2021 Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs. Post time is approximately 6:30 Eastern time.

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Qualifying for the Kentucky Derby

To compete in the Kentucky Derby, a horse must qualify for the race through a series of prep races called the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The series features races that begin for two-year-olds and extend through the sophomore season. The points are scaled depending on when the race is run and only the twenty horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate for the Run for the Roses.

Major prep races include the Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita, the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, and the Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds. The winners of these races are always able to get a spot in the Derby, while others who finish second or third rely on points earned from other races, or horses who defect.

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Only the top 20 American points holders get in, fewer if a horse makes the trip from overseas. There is a Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and a European Road to the Kentucky Derby; one slot is reserved for each. Japan’s Road to the Derby includes the Unicorn Stakes, Fukuryu, and Hyacinth Stakes. The European Road to the Derby includes the Patton Stakes and the Vertem Futurity Trophy in the United Kingdom.

One spot in the Kentucky Derby is reserved for each of those series. However, horses from those European and Japanese races do not always choose to come to Louisville, so often 20 American-based horses do get into the race.

The points emphasis is on three-year-old racing, with even the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), the premier race for two-year-olds, getting only 20 points for the win.

Aside from the Blue Grass at Keeneland, which is a short three-week meet, the other races all have preps with lower points, such as the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream preceding the Florida Derby, and the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita coming before the Santa Anita Derby. For Oaklawn it is the Rebel Stakes (G2), and for the Fair Grounds, it is the Risen Star (G2).

Some smaller tracks also offer a lot of Derby points. The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs offers 50 points to the winner; the Sam F. Davis (G3) is its local 10-point prep. Turfway Park also offers a pair of points races; the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) offers its winner 100 points, and the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes is its 10-point local prep.

Kentucky Derby FAQs

  • When is the Kentucky Derby?

    The Kentucky Derby is typically run on the first Saturday in May. The 2023 Kentucky Derby will run on Saturday, May 6.

  • Where is the Kentucky Derby?

    Every year since 1875, the Kentucky Derby has been run under the twin spires of Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky.

  • Will the race be on TV?

    The 2021 Kentucky Derby will be on the NBC family of networks. Early coverage will run from 12:30 pm-2:30 pm EDT on NBCSN, then the Kentucky Derby will air on NBC from 2:30 pm-7:30 pm EDT on NBC.

  • Who won the Derby in 2020?

    Authentic won the race in 2020, defeating Kentucky Derby's favorite Tiz the Law. Authentic was ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Bob Baffert. With that win, Bob Baffert tied Ben Jones for most Kentucky Derby victories by any trainer, with six.

  • How many horses compete in it?

    20 horses can run in the Kentucky Derby. Four more horses can go on the also-eligible list and draw in if someone in the main field scratches before local betting begins at 9:00 am EDT the day before the Kentucky Derby. But, only the 20 horses with the most points are guaranteed a spot.

  • How many people attend the Kentucky Derby each year?

    Though only 20,000 to 30,000 people will be allowed to attend the race due to COVID-19 regulations, many years 150,000 or more people come to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. The attendance record came in 2015 when 170,513 people saw American Pharoah win the first jewel of the Triple Crown.

  • Which Triple Crown races follow it?

    The second and third races of the Triple Crown are the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. In 2021 the Preakness will be run at Pimlico on Saturday, May 15. The 2021 Belmont will be run on Saturday, June 5 at Belmont Park.

  • How much does the winner of the Kentucky Derby get?

    The Kentucky Derby winner earns $1.8 million from the $3 million Kentucky Derby purse.

  • How long is the race?

    The Kentucky Derby distance is a mile and a quarter, regarded as the Classic distance in the United States. That is equal to ten furlongs, or 2012 meters.

  • Who is the favorite to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby?

    Right now Concert Tour and Essential quality are the early favorites to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby. These favorites will change as prep races finish and horses continue to train toward the race, so players should keep watching the news for the latest information and the racebooks for the best Kentucky Derby odds.

  • Where can bettors place Kentucky Derby bets?

    Thanks to the internet, everybody can enjoy betting the Kentucky Derby from the comfort of their own home. Players can use any online device like a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to wager on the Kentucky Derby from an online sportsbook or racebook.

  • Is it possible to bet on the race from a mobile device?

    There are two ways to bet the Kentucky Derby on a mobile device. One way is to use the smartphone’s browser to access the sportsbook website, read through the wagers and odds, and place a bet.

    Many sportsbooks also offer mobile apps. After downloading and installing them to their smartphones, bettors can enjoy one-tap access to a full-featured wagering experience designed exclusively for mobile.

  • Which are the best sportsbooks for betting the Kentucky Derby?

    Choosing the right place to bet the Kentucky Derby can be daunting since there are so many options online. Don’t make that important decision alone! Our sportsbook reviews feature independent evaluations by betting experts, so bettors can make an educated decision about which sportsbook gives them the best features, odds, and promotions for their needs.

  • Do sportsbooks offer promotions for betting on the Kentucky Derby?

    Most online sportsbooks offer a broad range of promotions including deposit bonuses and rebates. Many racebooks offer a horse racing rebate, paid off every day, whether bets win or lose. The rebate varies but is typically between 7-15% of a player’s betting volume.

  • Do sportsbooks offer live streaming of the race?

    Most online sportsbooks do not yet have streaming agreements for the Kentucky Derby. Bettors should check in closer to the Kentucky Derby to see if their sportsbook of choice has negotiated a streaming agreement. and the NBC Sports app will offer live streaming coverage of the Kentucky Derby. Players can use these to watch the race live while placing Kentucky Derby bets at their favorite sportsbooks.

  • What Kentucky Derby bets do online sportsbooks offer?

    Online sportsbooks offer a full range of betting options on the Kentucky Derby. Those include traditional horse racing bets like win, place, and show as well as the kinds of prop bets and event bets that bettors previously had to travel to Las Vegas to make. Popular bets on the Kentucky Derby include:

    • Win
    • Place
    • Show
    • Daily Double
    • Pick 3
    • Pick 4
    • Exacta
    • Quinella
    • Trifecta
    • Superfecta

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