Every year on the first Saturday in May, the Churchhill Downs holds the famous Kentucky Derby. This event is a race for 20 3-year-old Thoroughbred horses. All of them must run a distance of one and one-quarter miles.
Around 155,000 people attend the race every year. It’s no wonder why they do, as the Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. It is also America’s longest continually held sporting event.
But what got this event started all those years ago? And what can you do if you attend a Kentucky Derby? Read on to learn more.
History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby
Thoroughbred racing has been a part of Kentucky’s history since before the state was a state. Frontiersmen loved to race the horses they brought with them into the wilderness. So horse racing was around long before the Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky Derby History
However, the official Kentucky Derby history started in 1872. That was the year Merriweather Lewis Clark, grandson of William Clark, traveled to Europe and attended the Epsom Derby in England.
This event inspired Clark to create a horse race in America. The first official race took place in 1875. It has been held every year since then without any misses.
Kentucky Derby Traditions
What about the origins of those elaborate hats and mint juleps? As for the latter, the history isn’t so clear. The drink started appearing in the 1930s, but references to it existed before then.
The elaborate hat tradition started in the 1960s. Fashion-conscious women wanted to stand out in the era of television. So the hats got more extensive and more detailed.
The Horses and Jockeys
Kentucky Derby horses are colts (male horses), geldings (castrated male horses), or fillies (female horses). All these types of horses must be three years old when racing. And officials encourage horse race safety (no drugs, enough rest, etc.).
Also, the teams behind the horses select their jockeys carefully. It’s not just about credentials. A jockey must gel with a horse’s personality and racing style.
The Kentucky Derby Experience
So what can a person do at the Kentucky Derby? Besides watching the “laps in horse races” (only one in the Derby), you can bet on the horse you think will win. You can also get drunk, eat your fill, and find yourself covered in mud (yes, the Derby can become a wild party).
Also, come earlier in the week. You can attend plenty of other events before the event—for example, the opening night on the Saturday before the event features races and live entertainment.
Watch the Kentucky Derby Here
As you can see, the Kentucky Derby is an honored tradition rich in history and tradition. But it can also be a ton of fun.
Still, if you want to avoid crowds, there are many venues where you can get much of the experience. First, come by one of our many Bout Time Pub locations. We’ve got more TVs than tables and plenty of tasty food and drinks.
Find your nearest pub on your page.