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10 Fun Facts about the Kentucky Derby

1. It's the Longest-Running Sporting Event in the U.S.

The Kentucky Derby has the longest history of any sporting event in the country. The first race was May 17, 1875, with 15 horses competing in front of a crowd of about 10,000.

2. The Trophy Is Made of Real Gold

The Kentucky Derby trophy is smaller than you might think: It's 22 inches tall and only weighs 3.5 pounds, despite being made from 14-karat gold and perched on a jade base.

3. The Derby Has an Official Cocktail

The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the mint julep. More than 120,000 of the cocktails are served each year at the Kentucky Derby (the venue needs more than 1,000 pounds of fresh mint to meet that demand.)

4. This Is the 148th Year of the Derby

2022 marks the 148th consecutive year of the horse race. While the event hasn't always been held on the first Saturday of May each year (it's been postponed a few times), there has always been a Kentucky Derby held each calendar year.

5. The Hats Weren't Always a Tradition

The Kentucky Derby is known for fashion just as much as it's known for horse racing. For decades, women have worn big, elaborate hats to watch the race—but that wasn't always the case. Hats didn't become a popular accessory at the Derby until the mid-1960s when the event (and the spectators) began to be televised. Around that time, women began wearing fancier clothing and extravagant hats in hopes that they'd be seen on television.

6. The Race Has an Official Flower

The official flower of the Kentucky Derby is a red rose. Each year, the winner is crowned with a garland of red roses, leading some to call the event 'The Run for the Roses.'

7. The Rose Garland Weighs More Than 40 Pounds

The famous rose garland that is draped over the winning horse is made with more than 400 red roses, which are sewn together on green satin. The garland weighs about 40 pounds—that's a lot of flowers!

8. It's Called "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports"

For all the hype surrounding it, the actual race only lasts about two minutes—which is why it's been dubbed, "the most exciting two minutes in sports." Blink, and you'd miss it!

9. The Derby's First Winner Was Named Aristides

A chestnut thoroughbred named Aristides was the winner of the very first Kentucky Derby in 1875. He finished the race in two minutes and 37 seconds.

10. Only 3-Year-Old Horses Can Compete

Not just any horse can compete in the Derby! Only 3-year-old horses are allowed to race, which means each horse will compete only one time.

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