Kentucky Derby

Show off your horse sense: Take our Derby quiz

On the first Saturday of May, Louisville plays host to the oldest continuous sporting event in the United States.

There will be horses and roses and beautiful hats and lots of people watching a race that lasts two minutes.

How much do you know about the Kentucky Derby? Test your knowledge and see how close you can get to being a Derby expert.

1. The Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs, named after the relatives of the descendants of which famous explorer?

A. William Clark

B. Meriwether Lewis

C. Jonathan Carver

D. Zebulon Pike

2. True or False: From start to finish, the Kentucky Derby Race covers 1.5 miles?

3. What breeder or owner has the most Kentucky Derby winners?

A. Overbrook Farm

B. WinStar Farm

C. Calumet Farm

D. Dixiana Farm

4. True or false: No other country besides the United States has produced a Derby winner.

5. How long is a furlong?

A. One eighth of a mile

B. Half a mile

C. Three feet

D. Two miles

6. The Kentucky Derby, traditionally held on the first Saturday in May, and is the first leg of the ...

A. Triple Tiara

B. Triple Crown

C. Run for the Roses

D. Breeders Cup

7. Who makes the rose garland that is awarded to the winning horse?

A. 1-800-FLOWERS

B. Wal-Mart

C. Kroger

D. Kingsley Walker Florist

8. What's the official drink of the Kentucky Derby?

A. Manhattan

B. Bloody Mary

C. Mint julep

D. Whiskey sour

9. Blacks accounted for how many of the 15 jockeys who participated in the first-ever running of the race?

A. 2

B. 8

C. 11

D. 13

10. True or false? A gray horse has won the Derby.

11. The fastest run of the Derby (at its present distance) clocked in at 1 minute, 592?5 seconds. Which horse earned those bragging rights?

A. Northern Dancer

B. Secretariat

C. Barbaro

D. Smarty Jones

12. Who was the first Kentucky Derby starter and winner owned by a woman?

A. Elwood

B. Regret

C. Genuine Risk

D. Winning Colors


1. A. William Clark. Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of Gen. William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, first caught the horse-racing bug after visiting the Epsom Derby in England. He went on to found the Louisville Jockey Club and build Churchill Downs, named after relatives on his mother's side who provided the land for the racetrack.

2. False. While the distance for the Kentucky Derby originally was set at 1.5 miles (or 2.4 kilometers), the same distance as the Epsom Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris, it was changed to its current length of 1.25 miles (or 2 km.) in 1896, primarily as a result of the belief that the original distance was too long for the colts to run in the spring.

3. C. Calumet Farm has had nine winners in the Kentucky Derby: Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), Hill Gail (1952), Iron Liege (1957), Tim Tam (1958), Forward Pass (1968) and Strike the Gold (1991) and all of which the stable bred. Forward Pass won on a disqualification of Dancers Image.

4. False. England has produced two — Tomy Lee (1959) and Omar Khayyam (1917) — and Canada has produced two — Northern Dancer (1964) and Sunny's Halo (1983). Two other winners, Cavalcade (1934), Pensive (1944), are sons of mares who were bred to stallions in England but foaled in this country.

5. A. A furlong is a unit of distance equal to one-eighth of a mile. Originally, a furlong referred to the length of the furrow running across an open plowed field, but now it's used mostly to measure distances for horse racing.

6. B. The Kentucky Derby is the first race in the Triple Crown. The Preakness Stakes, held in May in Baltimore, followed by the Belmont Stakes, in June in Elmont, N.Y., round out this historic trio of races. Winning all three is rare and considered the ultimate achievement in Thoroughbred horse racing. Eleven horses have done it.

7. C. The Kroger Co. has been the official florist of the Kentucky Derby since 1987. After taking over the duties from Kingsley Walker Florist, Kroger began constructing the prestigious garland in one of its local stores for the public to view on Derby Eve.

8. C. The mint julep is an iced drink made with bourbon, mint and a simple syrup. It usually is served in a commemorative Derby glass printed with the names of all the previous winners.

9. D. Thirteen of the 15 jockeys in the first Derby were black. In addition, black jockeys rode 15 of the first 28 winners, and one was the youngest rider ever to win the Derby. That accolade belongs to Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton, who was 15 when he won in 1892 aboard Azra.

10. True. There have been eight gray or roans. Bay horses have won 51 times; chestnuts, 43; browns, 17; dark bay/brown, 10; dark bay, 3 and black horses, 4.

11. B. In 1973, Secretariat knocked previous record-holder Northern Dancer out of the top slot. He went on to log progressively faster times in the other Triple Crown races that year.

12. A. Elwood, in 1904, was the first horse owned by a woman (Laska Durnell) to win the prestigious race.