9 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About The Kentucky Derby

05/02/2014 05:18 pm ET | Updated May 02, 2014
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"The Greatest Two Minutes In Sports" is set to kick off in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday. At the 140th Kentucky Derby, women will parade the most fashionable and elaborate of hand-crafted hats, bets will made for and against the top 3-year-old thoroughbred horses in the game, and barrels of bourbon will be consumed.

That's all well-known fodder, but the annual horse race, which lasts just over two minutes, has a bizarre and fascinating history.

Here are nine things you probably didn't know about the Derby:

  • 1 Mint Julep Consumption
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  • Each year, about 120,000 mint juleps are consumed at Churchill Downs. The official drink of the Derby is traditionally made with Kentucky bourbon, simple syrup, crushed ice, powered sugar and mint.
  • 2 The Fastest Horse
  • The fastest horse in Derby history was Secretariat, who in 1973 finished the 1 ¼ mile distance race with of a time of 1:59.40. Only two other horses in Derby history have crossed the finish line in under two minutes, according to ESPN.
  • 3 There's Something About That "S" Name
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  • There have been 19 winning horses in the Kentucky Derby whose names began with the letter "S." This year, Samraat is the only horse with an "S" name.
  • 4 Record-Breaking Wagers
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  • In 2012, the Derby set a record for wagering with more than $187 million bets on the races (combined total from both on and off-track bets). In 2011, the total was about $165 million, according to Churchill Downs data.
  • 5 The Rose Garland
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  • Each year, more than 400 red roses are used in the rose blanket draped around the winner of the Derby. In 1925, a columnist dubbed the Kentucky Derby the "Run for the Roses," according to KentuckyDerby.com.
  • 6 African-American Trainers And Jockeys
  • According to ESPN, former slave Ansel Williamson was the trainer of the Derby's first winning horse, Aristides, in 1875. The winning jockey, Oliver Lewis, was also African-American, the Kentucky Derby Museum notes.
  • 7 Women In The Derby
    AP Photo/John Swart
  • In 1970, Diane Crump became the first woman to ride in the Derby. Author and journalist Hunter S. Thompson mentioned her in his essay "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," which was published later that year. No female trainer has ever won the Derby, but in 1992, Shelley Riley became the closest female trainer to winning. Her horse, Casual Lies, came in second place.
  • 8 The Smallest Race
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  • In 1892, only three horses ran in the Derby, making it the smallest field in the race's history, CNN notes.
  • 9 Youngest And Oldest Jockey Winners
  • Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton was the youngest jockey in Derby history to win a race. He was 15 years old when he won in 1892. The oldest jockey to win was Willie Shoemaker, who won the 1986 race at age 54. (He's pictured above.)