In 2018, the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 5th. The Kentucky Derby is truly a sports fans bucket list item. Witnessing the Kentucky Derby live at Churchill Downs is unlike any other sports experience in the country. The famous Kentucky Derby hats, mint julips, and part atmosphere of the race track are unlike any other.
Merriweather Lewis Clark Jr. founded the Louisville Jockey Club in order to raise money to build a quality race track outside of Louisville. He named it Churchill Downs, named after the men who provided the land for the track opened in 1875. The first derby took place on May 17, 1875 in front of 10,000 fans. The race was won by a colt named Aristides. Originally, the Kentucky Derby was a 1 1/2 mire race, however, it was changed to its current distance of 1 1/4 miles in 1896.
Eventually, horse owners began sending their horses to compete at the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, MD and the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, NY following the Kentucky Derby because the three races offered the largest purses. This tradition we know of today is called the Triple Crown.