America’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, has been held continuously since 1875 at Louisville, Kentucky, and has become one of the country’s largest civic celebrations (and betting opportunity). Not bad when you consider that the event lasts only two minutes!
Modeled on England’s Epsom Derby, it is for three-year-old Thoroughbreds and was originally run at a mile and a half (now at a mile and a quarter). Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark organized the first race, and since he wanted the occasion to be festive, he gave a Derby breakfast for his friends before the first running (mint juleps anyone?).
Dances, parties, and carnival-like gaiety have long been a feature of Derby week. The Derby is the first event in the “Triple Crown” series, followed by the Preakness (the second Saturday after the Derby) and the Belmont Stakes (the fifth Saturday after the Derby).