Kentucky Derby Facts



May is coming soon  and with it the Kentucky Derby. Today author Kathryn Jane, a race horse trainer, tells us some interesting facts about the Derby and its traditions.

With the approach of the first Saturday in May, better known in my circles as Kentucky Derby day, I thought I’d share six  interesting facts for writers and everyone else.

When including the Derby in your writing, there are a some things that really shouldn’t involve artistic license so I’ll save you the embarrassment with a few details that may help you with your work, and those of you who aren’t writers will have a tidbit of knowledge to impress your family and friends as you settle in front of the television on May 3rd to watch the 140th Kentucky Derby.

Fact 1
The Kentucky Derby has been tagged as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” because the journey begins before a horse is born, takes years of preparation to get to the race itself, and then the whole thing is over in about two minutes.

Fact 2
The Derby is exclusively for Thoroughbreds in their three year old year. This year, all entrants will be foals of2011, and because Thoroughbreds are typically born between January 01st and May 31st, most of the horses competing will be literally, three years old. (Officially, Thoroughbreds are all considered to have the same birthday, January 1st.)

Fact 3
The field will be made up of mostly colts. That is, unaltered (unneutered) males. Geldings and fillies are allowed to compete in the race, but fillies usually run in the Kentucky Oaks instead, a race restricted to three year old fillies. There have only been three fillies and nine geldings to win the Derby. Colts and geldings carry 126 lbs, and fillies carry 121lbs

Fact 4
The Derby is run on a dirt racetrack, never on turf. (Turf is a grass track and a much different surface for horses to run on. Horses are very rarely successful on both surfaces as the two require different types of conformation and running style. It is not unusual for a well-bred horse that has been a racing disappointment on dirt to be switched to turf and show amazing talent.)

Fact 5
Approximately 400 foals will be nominated each year, and no more than 20 of those will be allowed to compete in the Derby when they turn three. Entry eligibility is based on money earned.

Fact 6
The race is a mile and a quarter, is run counter clockwise (as are all US horse races), and has never been run in less than one minute and fifty-nine seconds. Secretariat still holds the record for the fastest win at 1:59:4

It’s been fun to stop by and I’ll stay posted for any questions you’d like to ask


DaringToLove(2) final coverDaring to Love

A woman who reads hearts…
“Help me…” As an empath working for an organization dedicated to locating missing children, Liz MacKenzie is accustomed to using her unique abilities to sense the emotions of others. She’s not accustomed to hearing them call for her. That’s the specialized skill of a telepath.

A man who reads minds…

Galen Keifer’s special method of interrogation involves telepathic seduction, a technique that drove away the love of his life two years ago. In spite of their rocky past, Liz has reached out to him again. He’s the one man who may be able to discover the truth about the mysterious voice calling to her.

A voice from the darkness…

Liz can’t ignore the child’s voice, one that may be connected to a dark secret in her past. Barely recovered from her last rescue mission, she doesn’t trust her own senses, or a man who uses seduction in such a devastating way. But with the possibility of a child’s life in danger, Liz and Galen can’t afford to let it get personal again. Finding the child comes first, even though their hearts and minds are daring them to love…


Stubborn, self-sufficient women, and the men who dare to love them.


You can find out more about Kathryn at:

Kindle :
Twitter: @Author_Kat_Jane


Categories: Horses, Kentucky, Kentucky Derby, Racing, riding, Thoroughbreds, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Kentucky Derby Facts

  1. Thanks for inviting me to visit with your friends Kate! I look forward to answering all their questions 🙂

  2. Very interesting. These were things I didn’t know about the Derby.

  3. Always interesting to learn additional information on horses! Thanks.
    Carol Smilgin

    • You’re welcome Carol 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to make a comment! If you’re ever in more need of horse information, you can check out my website… and of course this blog of Kate’s is a wonderful resource.

  4. You’re welcome Carol! I love sharing about horses.
    If you ever need more information, this blog of Kate’s has a ton of great horse stuff, plus you can check out my website for workshops, too.

  5. marsharwest

    Hey, Kate. So glad I stopped by. I love Kathryn’s books. (I’m really not stalking your Kathryn. LOL I come by Kate’s often. Tell her, Kate. ) 🙂 Fascinating info about the Derby. One of my daughters has attended. I watched once on vacation, somewhere. Big screen, screaming fans. I can still feel the thrill as my horse won. Not that I’d bet on him, nor do I remember his name. But the rush? Oh yes. That I remember. I’ll be FBing and Tweeting this. Want to spread the word about two of my favorite horse women. Y’all and Stephanie Berget. I am not a horse person, but appreciate those who are. 🙂

    • Hi Marsha!

      Thanks for stopping by, and LOL, I believe you!

      The Derby is always great fun to watch on TV, and to attend one day, is one of my dreams 🙂

      Thanks also for the FB and Tweeting!

  6. Neat post…like the new site look.

  7. Thanks everyone for stopping by. I just discovered that the hospital has wi-fi. (DH, not me)
    And thank you Kathryn for a great post.

  8. gkparker

    I used to love watching the Triple Crown races, though lately I don’t keep up since I don’t know the horses anymore. Fortunately, I was a huge fan when Secretariat ran so I had the privilege of seeing him run.

    As for accuracy in Derby stories, I once read a book–well, part of one, since I threw it against the wall–was set in Derby. Among the colts competing was some perennial horse that ran every year and always lost. I mean how easy is it to find out the Derby (and all those pre-Triple Crown races–are reserved for three year olds? Even the simplest research will reveal the fact.

    • boy do I hear ya! I once tried contacting a New York Times Best Selling author that I adore to offer my services as a proof reader because she’d really screwed up in the book I was reading.

      That’s why my online workshop and services were born, to save writers from having their books thrown at the wall!

      I’m like you though, the last few years I haven’t kept up with the new crop of three-year-olds, but I still watch the race, and actually bet on a couple of horses based on their names or appearance or their rider 😉

  9. Greta

    Enjoyed the post–thank you! I grew up on the Black Stallion books, the Sunbonnet books … and then as an adult I started reading Dick Francis.

    I’m a little late to the party, but if you read this … do horses _try_ to win? Horses are prey animals, and running is an escape-danger response. Are they trying to outrun each other as an instinctual response (=genetic imperative; the fastest escaper of danger will be the one who continues to pass on his genes), or are they actually running competitively, with the intention of beating other horses? Are they proud to win, as so many of the novels I’ve read suggest?

    I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

    • Hi Greta, thanks for stopping by!

      Thoroughbreds love to run. It seems to be programed in from birth! I’ve watched babies in the fields with their moms playing and racing against each other. The ones who are occasionally born with absolutely no competitive spirit will be unsuccessful at the track and sent on to careers as riding horses or to excel in the show-ring.

      I worked with a filly years ago that made me grin all the time. When she and the other yearling fillies were put out in the field in the mornings, the first thing they’d do was run a few laps around the outside. Hannah would be happily galloping mid pack, then put on a burst of speed to pass the others. Once out in front she’d start to swing her head side to side and bucking as though showing off. Then she’d slow right down and let all the others pass her. But after galloping alongside the slowest horse for a bit, she’d toss her head and again, put on a big flash of fast and pass everyone…. this filly ended up being an amazingly successful racehorse. And. The filly that was always galloping along behind the rest? She became a show jumper.

      Horses can’t be forced to win. One hundred and ten pound jockeys can’t force a thousand pound animal to do something it doesn’t want to do. I’ve seen horses simply lay down on the track because they don’t want to run 🙂

      This desire is what sets the Thoroughbred apart from other breeds. I guess it’s a DNA thing 🙂

      Thanks again for stopping by… I love answering questions about horses!

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