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The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is held annually on the first Saturday in May in Louisville, Kentucky. The race takes place at Churchill Downs and has several nicknames, including The Run for the Roses and The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. The former was created because a blanket of 554 roses is awarded to annually to the winner.

The Derby is one of three races that comprise horse racing's Triple Crown (the other two being the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes). Kentucky has a rich history in horse racing, dating back to the 18th century, with the Derby being inaugurated in 1875. The track debuted at 1 ½ miles, though it was eventually reduced to its current length of 1 ¼ miles.

Aristides won the first race, and the colt managed a second-place finish at Belmont later that year. Derby contenders are limited to three-year-old horses, and a two-year-old hasn't won the race since Apollo in 1882.

Sir Barton was the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in the same year, doing so in 1919. The feat was followed up in 1930 by Gallant Fox, which inspired sportswriter Charles Hatton to coin the term "Triple Crown."

Secretariat is perhaps racing's most famous horse, and the thoroughbred proved his dominance by setting a track record in 1973 at 1:59:40. His record still stands today and, even more impressively, his times actually improved each quarter of the race. Only two other times has the two-minute barrier been broken-by Sham in a second-place finish to Secretariat in 1973, and in 2001 by Monarchos.

Kentucky Derby winners:

2009 Mine That Bird
2008 Big Brown
2007 Street Sense
2006 Barbaro
2005 Giacomo
2004 Smarty Jones
2003 Funny Cide
2002 War Emblem
2001 Monarchos
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus
1999 Charismatic
1998 Real Quiet
1997 Silver Charm
1996 Grindstone
1995 Thunder Gulch
1994 Go for Gin
1993 Sea Hero
1992 Lil E. Tee
1991 Strike the Gold
1990 Unbridled
1989 Sunday Silence
1988 Winning Colors
1987 Alysheba
1986 Ferdinand
1985 Spend A Buck
1984 Swale
1983 Sunny's Halo
1982 Gato Del Sol
1981 Pleasant Colony
1980 Genuine Risk
1979 Spectacular Bid
1978 Affirmed
1977 Seattle Slew
1976 Bold Forbes
1975 Foolish Pleasure
1974 Cannonade
1973 Secretariat

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