How Long Is The Kentucky Derby (And Why)?

How Long Is The Kentucky Derby (And Why)?

Exact Answer – Two Weeks.

A Derby is the race of Horses, and one of the most awaited Derby in the United States is The Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby happens in May every year, and it starts on the first Saturday of May. It is amazing to know that the first race happened 146 years ago, in 1875.

During the races in the Kentucky Derby, three-year-old thoroughbreds race to get the first position in the Derby. As the name suggests, it is held in Kentucky. To be precise, the location for the Kentucky Derby is Churchill Downs Louisville, Kentucky, US. Every year, Kentucky Derby sees the most number of attendees as compared to other similar events.

Woodford Reserve has presented the Kentucky Derby over the years, and it is a Grade 1 race without a doubt.

How Long Is The Kentucky Derby

How Long Is The Kentucky Derby?

Thirty-five races happen each year before finalizing on the most brilliant horse. As a rule, the Kentucky Derby spans about two weeks (sometimes more than two weeks) in which the thoroughbreds race with each other in different segments. The Kentucky Derby is also known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports” because all it takes to finish the race is somewhere around 2 minutes – give or take a couple of seconds.

And that is where record-breaking performance happens – in just seconds. Yes, that is true, the horses’ race on a 2-kilometer field, which completes in around 2 minutes. Earlier, the horses in the Kentucky Derby used to race for 2.4 Kilometers.

Length Of The RaceSpeed Record
2 Kilometer (Mile and a quarter)1 minute 59 seconds
2.4 Kilometer ( Mile and a Half)2 minutes 34 seconds
Speed Records

The two-week Kentucky Derby is a part of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Horse Racing. There are other races also in the Triple Crown series. The three-part of the Triple Crown is as follows:

  1. The Kentucky Derby
  2. The Preakness Stakes
  3. The Belmont Stakes

Once the horse competes and wins all three races, it can win the triple crown. Only after a very tough competition and a thorough examination of the results is when the judges arrive at a conclusion as to which horse is the one is winning the triple crown.

Why Is The Kentucky Derby So Long?

The reason behind the Kentucky Derby taking two or more weeks to complete is because, over the span of these weeks, there are about 35 races amongst the participants. These 35 races are held at different places and at different times. Plus, each horse that wins in these races then goes on to compete with other winners. And thus, it takes so much time to finish the scoring.

In total, 20 horses eventually competed in the race. Also, the field for the Kentucky Derby is larger than any other horse racing field. And at a given time, only eight horses run in a race making the time period of calculating results a bit more than the usual. And more races mean the time also multiplies when it comes to picking a winner amongst winners.

Another reason why the Kentucky Derby is so long is because the participating horses have to follow along the path before getting to the finals.

Thirty-five horse races take place at tracks which are at locations from around the world. The finalists amongst these 35 races then compete, and four top horses are awarded points.

And once the races are done, other activities happen. And thus, the races are scheduled over the course period of two weeks and sometimes even more than that.

After all the rankings and ensuring that there is no cheating and fraud play, one winner is awarded who finishes the race in the minimum time. 


So to make sure that one winner is fairly awarded, a lot of screening is done, and a lot of races are there in the period of almost two weeks. At the end of all these races, it becomes easier to finalize the winning horse considering all the factors.

The two-week-long Kentucky Derby sometimes even lasts longer than a month due to the various activities along with the races. And hence is also known as the Kentucky Derby Festival.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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