The student news site of Greenwood High School

The Daily Chomp

The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

By Alyson Kaelin, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






In 1872, a man named Meriwether Lewis Clark journeyed to England and attended a famous horse race dating back to 1780: The Epsom Derby. Amazed and inspired, Clark came back with great visions and ideas to bring horse racing to America. His uncles, John and Henry Churchill, gave him 80 acres of land in Louisville, to build the horse racing track, and a club of race fans he formed, the Louisville Jockey Club, helped raise money to cover the building expenses. Clark hosted the first ever Kentucky Derby on May 17, 1875, which is now known as “the greatest two minutes in sports.”

2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and his jockey Mario Gutierrez, show off the Garland of Roses

The first Kentucky Derby, at what is now called Churchill Downs, had over 10,000 peop

le in attendance, and was the start for the many Derby Day traditions Kentuckians now have. The first Kentucky Derby consisted of 15 three-year-old thoroughbred horses running one-and-a-half miles, with Aristides as the winner. Now the racing distance is one and a quarter miles where it was shortened from one and a half miles in 1896.

In 1895, Churchill Downs revealed its new 285 ft. grandstand topped with two identical spires, which is now known as the Twin Spires, a famous symbol of the Kentucky Derby.

In 1904, the red rose became the official flower of the derby, but it wasn’t until 1932 that the roses were made into a garland to place over the winning horse. In 1932, the Run for the Roses began when a Louisville florist named Grace Walker designed a horseshoe-shaped garland of roses to place around the winning horse of each Kentucky Derby.

This garland is 122 inches long, 22 inches wide, weighs 40 pounds, and consists of 400 red roses. On the center of the garland is a crown of roses with each rose representing each horse participating in the Derby that year.

In the center of the crown of roses is a single rose symbolizing the heart and determination the horse had to be placed in the Kentucky Derby Winners Circle. The 1932 Kentucky Derby winner Burgoo King was the first horse to be draped with the Garland of Roses.

Hats are a huge part of the Kentucky Derby, mainly because men and women have been wearing them since the first Kentucky Derby. Before the Kentucky Derby, it was normal for women and men to wear hats to outdoor sporting events. A woman not wearing a hat was considered to be in

The famed, Twin Spires are a famous architectural feature at Churchill Downs

decent. Today, Derby hats come in all different shapes, colors, and styles, and are essential to the Kentucky Derby.

Mint julep is another tradition of the Kentucky Derby. This popular Kentucky Bourbon drink has been a tradition at Churchill Downs for nearly a century. 120,000 Mint Juleps are served each year in various locations at different prices in Churchill Downs, but the most expensive mint julep is $1,000.

Each year Churchill Downs orders 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail along with 1,00 pounds of fresh mint and 60,000 pounds of ice. This is one of the richest Derby Day traditions at Churchill Downs.

The most important and prideful tradition of the Kentucky Derby is the singing and playing of “My Old Kentucky Home” as the horses step out on the track. The singing and playing of “My Old Kentucky Home” is considered to be one of the most moving experiences in all the world of sports. “My Old Kentucky Home,” written and conducted by Stephen Foster, was not played until the 47th running of the Kentucky Derby in 1921.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby receives a 24-karat solid gold trophy, the Garland of Roses, and a large amount of cash. The gold trophy has been presented annually since the 50th running of the Kentucky Derby in 1924. The original designs of the first recorded trophy have mostly stayed the same. In 1924 the horseshoe on the trophy was flipped right side up because of superstition that the horseshoe upside down led to bad luck.

The two minutes of the Kentucky Derby are truly one of the most exciting, prideful, and moving events in sports history, not just for Kentuckians, but for the world. With all of its rich history and traditions, from the singing of My Old Kentucky Home, to the presentation of the Garland of Roses, America’s Greatest Race will continue always have a special place in Kentuckians hearts.

Source: https://www.kentuckyderby.com/history

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    Arts & Entertainment

    TDC’s Last Playlist of the Week (For This Year)

  • Student Life

    Seniors Say Goodbye

  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    Opinion

    Webkinz Rules the World

  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    Student Life

    Croc Comeback: Our childhood shoes are becoming a new fashion statement

  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    Showcase

    Field Day Turns into a Success

  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    Arts & Entertainment

    15 Things You Didn’t Know Came From Kentucky

  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    News

    Students Thank Teachers for All They Do

  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    Arts & Entertainment

    TDC’s Playlist of the Week Vol. 31

  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    News

    Thank You, Mr. Davis

  • The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

    Clubs

    The Key to Life

The student news site of Greenwood High School
The History and Traditions of the Kentucky Derby