Kentucky Derby

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The Kentucky Derby (pronounced /ˈdɜrbi/) is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is one and a quarter mile (2 km) at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57.2 kg) and fillies 121 pounds (54.9 kg).[1] The race is known in the United States as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" or "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports" for its approximate duration, and is also called "The Run for the Roses" for the blanket of roses draped over the winner. It is the first leg of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing and is followed by the Preakness Stakes then the Belmont Stakes. The horse must win all three to win the Triple Crown. The attendance at the Kentucky Derby ranks first in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders' Cup.[citation needed] For more information, see American Thoroughbred Racing top Attended Events.

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History

The Kentucky Derby is one of the USA's oldest Thoroughbred horse races (the Phoenix Stakes being the oldest, first run in 1831). From the time the region was settled, the fields of the Bluegrass region were noted for producing superior racehorses. In 1872, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, traveled to England, visiting the Epsom Derby, a famous race that had been running annually since 1780. From there, Clark went on to Paris, France, where in 1863, a group of racing enthusiasts had formed the French Jockey Club and had organized the Grand Prix de Paris, which at the time was the greatest race in France.

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