Kentucky Derby Trivia: 40 Fun Facts About the Kentucky Derby

It's time to amaze your friends with some Kentucky Derby trivia before the big race takes place on Saturday May 1, 2021!

Get ready for Kentucky Derby Day with our list of trivia questions like...
  • What was the largest Kentucky Derby attendance?
  • How many horses run in the Kentucky Derby?
  • Who are the recent Kentucky Derby winners?
We can't always guarantee you'll always pick the winner of the Derby but we can guarantee your friends and colleagues will think you are a Kentucky Derby betting genius!
How old is the Kentucky Derby?
146 years in 2021

When was the first Kentucky Derby?

Who won the first Kentucky Derby?

Who won the 2016 Kentucky Derby?

How many horses have run in the Kentucky Derby?
1,846 in 141 runnings

How many horses can run in the Kentucky Derby?
The field has been limited to 20 starters each year since 1975. This is the largest field for any single race in America.

Most Starters: 23 (1974)
Least Starters: 3 (1892 and 1905)
20+ starters: 19
15+ starters: 62
14 starters: 77

What letter has the most Kentucky Derby winners' names started with?
19: S (last was Super Saver in 2010)
13: B (Big Brown in 2008)
12: C (California Chrome in 2014)
9: A and M (Animal Kingdom in 2011, Mine That Bird in 2009)
8: G (Giacomo in 2005)

No horse whose name starts with a Q, X, Y has ever won

What color horse has won the most Kentucky Derbys?
Bay: 52
Chestnut: 46
Dark Bay / Brown: 31
Gray / Roan: 8

Where have the most Kentucky Derby winners been born?
Kentucky: 107 (Nyquist in 2016)
Florida: 6 (Silver Charm in 1997)
Virginia: 4 (Sea Hero in 1993)
California: 4 (California Chrome in 2014)
Tennessee: 3 (Typhoon II 1897)

Only 4 winners have been born outside the United States: the British born Tomy Lee (1959) and Omar Khayyam (1917), and Canadian-breds Sunny's Halo (1983) and Northern Dancer (1964)

Though the foals are American-born, the mares of Pensive (1944) and Cavalcade (1934) were covered in England by British stallions and shipped to the United States

Who is the last foreign-bred horse to race in the Kentucky Derby?
Irish-bred Castledale in 2004

Who is the last foreign-bred horse to finish top 3 in the Kentucky Derby?
British-bred Bold Arrangement, who was second in 1986

Has a Kentucky Derby winner ever sired a Kentucky Derby winner?
Yes: 12 Bold Venture won in 1936 and is father to Assault (1946) and Middleground (1950) Bubbling Over (1926) / Burgoo King (1932) Count Fleet (1943) / Count Turf (1951) Determine (1954) / Decidedly (1962) Gallant Fox (1930) / Omaha (1935) note: the only Triple Crown winner to sire a Triple Crown winner Halma (1895) / Alan-a-Dale (1902) Pensive (1944 / Ponder (1949) Ponder (1949) / Needles (1956) Reigh Count (1928) / Count Fleet (1943) Seattle Slew (1977) / Swale (184) Swaps (1952) / Chateaugay (1963) Unbridled (1990) / Grindstone (1996)

How many days since a Kentucky Derby winner last raced is common?
21 and 14 days out have won 14 times

In recent history:
2016 - Nyquist was 35 days from winning the Florida Derby
2015 - American Pharoah was 21 days from winning the Arkansas Derby
2014 - California Chrome was 28 days from winning the Santa Anita Derby
2013 - Orb was 35 days from winning the Florida Derby
2012 - I'll Have Another was 28 days from winning the Santa Anita Derby
2011 - Animal Kingdom was 42 days from winning the Spiral Stakes
2010 - Super Saver was 21 days from running second in the Arkansas Derby
2009 - Mine That Bird was 34 days from running fourth in the Sunland Derby

8 lengths: Assault (1946), Whirlaway (1941), Johnstown (1939), Old Rosebudy (1914)
6-3/4 lengths: Mine That Bird (2009)
6-1/2 lengths: Barbaro (2006)
6 lengths: Hoop Jr. (1945), Chant (1894)
5-1/4 lengths: Spend a Buck (1985)

What is the slimmest winning margin in the Kentucky Derby?
Nose: Grindstone (1996), Tomy Lee (1959), Iron Liege (1957), Brokers Tip (1933), Alan-a-Dale (1902), Plaudit (1898), Ben Brush (1896), Azra (1892), Spokane (1889)

Head: Silver Charm (1997), Dark Star (1953), Jet Pilot (1947), Bold Venture (1936), Whiskery (1927), Behave Yourself (1921), Paul Jones (1920)

Neck: Charismatic (1999), Winning Colors (1988), Majestic Prince (1969), Lucky Debonair (1965), Northern Dancer (1964), George Smith (1916), Worth (1912), Typhoon II (1897), Joe Cotton (1885)

What post position has won the most Kentucky Derbys?
The starting gate was first used in 1930. Since then, the winningest posts have been:

9 wins: #10 (last was Giacomo in 2005)
9: #5 (California Chrome in 2014)
8: #1 (Ferdinand in 1986)
8: #8 (Mine That Bird in 2009)
7: #2 (Affirmed in 1978)
6: #7 (Street Sense in 2007)
5: #3 (Real Quiet in 1998)
5: #4 (Super Saver in 2010)

American Pharoah (2015) and Gato del Sol (1982) are the only two to win from post #18. #19 and #20 only have one winner apiece: I'll Have Another (2012), and Big Brown (2008) respectively. The only post to never host a Derby winner is #17.  

Has a horse ever won the Kentucky Derby without racing at two-years-old?
Yes: Apollo did in 1937. Since then, the record of horses only racing in their 3-year-old season is 59 - 0 - 3 - 4.

What jockey has won the most Kentucky Derby wins?
5: Eddie Arcaro on Lawrin (1938), Whirlaway (1941), Hoop Jr. (1945), Citation (1948), Hill Gail (1952)
5: Bill Hartack on Iron Liege (1957), Venetian Way (1960), Decidedly (1962), Northern Dancer (1964), Majestic Prince (1969)
4: Bill Shoemaker on Swaps (1955), Tomy Lee (1959), Lucky Debonair (1965), Ferdinand (1986)
3: Victor Espinoza on American Pharoah (2015), California Chrome (2014), War Emblem (2002)
3: Isaac Murphy on Buchanan (1884), Riley (1890) & Kingman (1891)
3: Earle Sande on Zev (1923), Flying Ebony (1925), Gallant Fox (1930)
3: Angel Cordero Jr on Cannonade (1974), Bold Forbes (1976), Spend a Buck (1985)
3: Gary Stevens on Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Silver Charm (1998)
3: Kent Desormeaux on Real Quiet (1998), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), Big Brown (2008)
3: Calvin Borel on Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009), Super Saver (2010)

What jockey has the most Kentucky Derby mounts?
26: Bill Shoemaker
22: Pat Day
21: Eddie Arcaro
21: Laffit Pincay Jr.
20: Mike Smith

Have any jockeys won back-to-back Kentucky Derbys?
Yes: 5
1890-91: Isaac Murphy with Riley and Kingman
1901-02: Jimmy Winkfield with His Eminence and Alan-a-Dale
1972-73: Ron Turcotte with Riva Ridge and Secretariat
1982-83: Eddie Delahoussaye with Gato del Sol and Sunny's Halo
2009-10: Calvin Borel with Mine That Bird and Super Saver
2014-15: Victor Espinoza with California Chrome and American Pharoah

Who is the oldest Kentucky Derby winning jockey?
Bill Shoemaker at 54 on Ferdinand in 1986

Who is the youngest Kentucky Derby winning jockey?
Both Alonzo Clayton (1892 on Azra) and James "Soup" Perkins (1895 on Halma) were 15 years old

Has anyone won the Kentucky Derby as both a jockey and a trainer?
Yes: Johnny Longden won as a jockey on Count Fleet in 1943 and trained Majestic Prince to victory in 1969

Has any jockey won the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby in the same year?
Yes: 7
1884: Isaac Murphy with Modesty and Buchanan
1933: Don Meade with Barn Swallow and Brokers Tip
1950: Bill Boland with Ari's Mona and Middleground
1952: Eddie Arcaro with Real Delight and Hill Gail
1966: Don Brumfield with Native Street and Kauai King
1993: Jerry Bailey with Dispute and Sea Hero
2009: Calvin Borel with Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird

Have any female jockeys won the Kentucky Derby?
No, though 6 women have competed in 8 runnings, with Rosie Napravnik's fifth place finish on Mylute the best finish in 2013

What trainer has the most Kentucky Derby wins?
6: Ben "Plain Ben" Jones with Lawrin (1938), Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), Hill Gail (1952)
4: Herbert J. “Derby Dick” Thompson with Behave Yourself (1921), Bubbling Over (1926), Burgoo King (1932), Brokers Tip (1933)
4: D. Wayne Lukas with Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (’95), Grindstone (1996), Charismatic (1999)
4: Bob Baffert with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015)
3: James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons with Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), Johnstown (1939)
3: Max Hirsch with Bold Venture (1936), Assault (1946), Middleground (1950)

What trainer has the most Kentucky Derby starts?
48: D. Wayne Lukas
41: Todd Pletcher
26: Herbert J. “Derby Dick” Thompson
26: Nick Zito
26: Bob Baffert

Have any trainers won back-to-back Kentucky Derbys?
Yes: 6
1932-33: Herbert J. “Derby Dick” Thompson with Burgoo King & Brokers Tip
1948-49: Ben “Plain Ben” Jones with Citation & Ponder
1957-58: Jimmy Jones with Iron Liege & Tim Tam
1972-73: Lucien Laurin: Riva Ridge & Secretariat
1995-96: D. Wayne Lukas with Thunder Gulch & Grindstone
1997-98: Bob Baffert with Silver Charm & Real Quiet

Who is the oldest Kentucky Derby winning trainer?
Art Sherman at 77 with California Chrome

Who is the youngest Kentucky Derby winning trainer?
James "Jimmy" Rowe Sr at 24 with Hindoo in 1881

Have any father/son trainers won the Kentucky Derby?
Yes: 2
James "Jimmy" Rowe (1881, 1915) and James Rowe Jr. (1931)
Ben "Plain Ben" Jones (1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952) and Jimmy Jones (1957, 1958)

Has any trainer won the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby in the same year?
Yes: 3
1933: Herbert J. “Derby Dick” Thompson with Brokers Tip and Barn Swallow
1949: Ben "Plain Ben" Jones with Wistful and Ponder
1952: Ben "Plain Ben" Jones with Real Delight and Hill Gail

What trainer has the most number of Kentucky Derby starters in a single year?
Several trainers have saddled 5
2013: Todd Pletcher with Revolutionary (3rd), Charming Kitten (9th), Overanalyze (11th), Palace Malice (12th), Verrazano (14th)
2007: Todd Pletcher with Circular Quay (6th), Any Given Saturday (8th), Sam P. (9th), Scat Daddy (18th), Cowtown Cat (20thy)
2005: Nick Zito with Bellamy Road (7th), Andromeda's Hero (8th), High Fly (10th), Noble Causeway (14th), Sun King (15th)
1996: D. Wayne Lukas with Grindstone (1st), Prince of Thieves (3rd), Editor's Note (6th), Victory Speech (10th), Honour and Glory (18th)

Have any female trainers won the Kentucky Derby?
No, though 15 women have saddled 16 runners, with Shelley Riley's runner up effort with Causal Lies the best finish in 1992

How many people go to the Kentucky Derby?
The average crowd for the first Saturday in May is 150,700 people. The average crowd for the Kentucky Oaks is 101,700.

What is the largest Kentucky Derby attendance?
170,513 in 2015

The largest attendance for a Kentucky Oaks was 2016's 124,589 people.

What Kentucky Derby prep race has produced the most Kentucky Derby winners?
23: Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland
23 Champagne Stakes at Belmont
22: Florida Derby at Gulfsteam Park
20: Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga
20: Wood Memorial at Aqueduct

What is the Kentucky Derby distance?
1-1/4 mi.

You could also say 10 furlongs or 2,011.68 meters or 2,200 yards or 6,600 feet or 79,200 inches

How long is the stretch run of the Kentucky Derby?
1,234.5 feet from the top of the turn to the finish line

What is the average temperature on Kentucky Derby day?
A high of 74 degrees with a low of 53

What is the usual track condition for the Kentucky Derby?
Fast: 99 runnings
Good: 12
Muddy: 7
Sloppy: 7

How old do you have to be to run in the Kentucky Derby?
Three. In the Northern Hemisphere, all Thoroughbreds turn a year older on January 1st (vs. July 1st for horses born in the Southern Hemisphere). No matter what month a horse is actually born in, grouping together all horses born in a given year allows us to card races for age as well as distance. Some people believe there is a certain mental maturity to a horse born earlier in the year and will look to play a January-born foal over one born in April.

Can a horse win the Kentucky Derby more than once?
No: the race is restricted to three-year-olds on the first Saturday in May, so there is only one shot to win