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.
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.
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.)
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
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.)
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.
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
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