The Kentucky Derby turns 150 years old this Saturday

Republished from WEKU.

Derby Day is just around the corner and this year, it celebrates a special anniversary. This Saturday, the Kentucky Derby celebrates its 150th birthday.

The Derby is America’s longest continuously held sporting event, having survived through two world wars, the Great Depression, and multiple pandemics. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when the race ran in virtual silence without the usual 150,000 person crowd.

Derby Day is a big deal here in the Commonwealth with many traditions of the day. Expect to see fancy hats, fans dressed in their Sunday best, mint juleps served in souvenir glasses, and the crowd singing “My Old Kentucky Home”.

One part of what makes the Derby unique is there is only one chance to run it, as horses must be 3-years-old to be eligible. It’s the only race with a 20-horse-field and for the last 11 years, horses have had to accumulate points to qualify their way in.

Brad Cox is a trainer and Louisville native who will saddle Catching Freedom, Encino and Just a Touch on Saturday.

“It’s an incredibly hard race just to get into, let alone win,” Cox said.

Despite its popularity, the Derby has come under scrutiny in the last few years when 12 horses died in 2023 at Churchill Downs in the weeks surrounding the race. An investigation was held but cleared the track free of fault and no singular cause was found.

The Derby continues to be a staple of the state and a popular event all around the country. The Derby was the second-most watched sporting event of 2023 right behind the Super Bowl.

This year, the value of the race has been boosted to $5 million with its newest edition being the $200 million paddock where the Derby horses will be saddled at Churchill Downs.

The 150th Kentucky Derby will run this Saturday, May 4th at 6:57 p.m. ET.

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Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.