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Best Moments of the Kentucky Derby

photo by Pietro Mattia / Unsplash

By Contributing Author

Often regarded as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” the Kentucky Derby is an annual horse race in Louisville, Kentucky. Unless for a few occasions, the event has always been held on the first Saturday of May. Spectators usually refer to the race as “the run for roses,” notably because of the blanket of roses draped over the winning horse.

As the Kentucky Derby 2022 draws closer, it’s nice to reflect on some of the glorious moments of this annual racing event. Being a long-lived traditional American event, it’s bound to have experienced some amazing moments throughout its history. After reading, if you’re not pumped to know what this season holds, you may have to recheck your decision.

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10 Best Moments of the Kentucky Derby

Here are the top best glorious moments of the Kentucky Derby:

  • Secretariat – Derby’s Fastest Horse

In 1972, at only two years old, Secretariat was named Horse of the Year, an honor hardly given to horses of such a young age. However, shortly after, he did have a dip in form when he finished third in the Wood Memorial.

Despite his recent poor performances, he was registered for the 1973 Kentucky Derby, an event he entered as a 3-2 favorite. He did have a poor start following his recent form, trailing in 13th position just after the whistle’s blow.

To prove his class and make history, he would win the race by 2½ lengths, setting a record time of 1:59:40, which remains unbroken. Till today, he’s known as the Michael Jordan of Horses.

  • Gallant Man and Shoemaker – The Standing Man

A race that will be one of the most controversial derbies ever saw a close head to head between Gallant Man and Iron Liege.

In 1957, legendary jockey Willie Shoemaker entered the Kentucky Derby with Gallant Man. In the heat of the race, he stopped, mistaking the 16th pole for the finish line. The momentary lapse was long enough for Willie Hartack and Iron Liege to take the lead. When Shoemaker realized his mistake, his best was to come in second as he could not retake the lead. Sometimes it’s not wise to celebrate too early.

  • Don Meade and Herb Fisher – Fight to the Finish

Although common among the horses, it’s not every day you get to see two jockeys go physical moments before heading to the finish line. Well, it did happen with these two riders in the 1938 derby.

As both horses headed towards the homestretch, Don Meade and Herb Fisher grabbed their arms as they struggled down the finish line. Brokers Tip (Ridden by Don Meade) eventually won the race by a slim margin, but that was not the highlight of the encounter. It was quite the scene for spectators’ entertainment, and they did get a 30-day suspension as punishment for their misconduct.

  • Winning Colors – 1988 Derby Won by a Filly

Sometimes, the fillies in this derby will take their chance if given one. Winning Colors became one of the only three female horses to win the Kentucky Derby after participating in the 1988 event with jockey Gray Stevens.

She was in top form that year, entering the competition after winning the Santa Anita Derby. Despite being intimidated by the high-profile colts, she held strong, took an impressive start, stayed in the lead, and was fast enough to hold off Forty Niner by a neck.

  • American Pharaoh – 1978 Dominance

This story focuses more on a horse’s excellent racing career than what transpired in the racing events. American Pharaoh started his Triple Crow sweep at the 1978 Kentucky Derby. He would eventually win the Breeders’ Cup, a feat that made him the first to win the “Grand Slam” of American horse racing.


Of course, this is just for the Kentucky Derby. There are endless sports stories that make you love the atmosphere created by the Kentucky Derby and other sports competitions.



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