Story highlightsThe Derby was first held in 1875Secretariat, the 1973 winner, still holds the track record
(CNN)It’s often referred to as “The most exciting two minutes in sports.”
So what makes the Kentucky Derby so special?Follow @cnnsport Here are five reasons not to miss the event, which will be held on May 4 at Churchill Downs race track in Louisville, Kentucky.It’s America’s longest running sports eventThe first Kentucky Derby was held on May 17, 1875, when a crowd of 10,000 saw three-year-old chestnut colt Aristides, ridden by African-American jockey Oliver Lewis, triumph at Churchill Downs. Read MoreThe Derby has been held at the same venue ever since, even during both World Wars and the Great Depression of the 1930s, making it the country’s longest continuously held sports event. The 145th edition of the mile-and-a-quarter race for three-year-old thoroughbreds is expected to attract more than 150,000 spectators. The Derby is the first leg of racing’s prestigious Triple Crown, which also consists of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes in Belmont Park, New York.READ: The world’s richest horse races: The top six prize pots in racingREAD: Meet the racehorse superheroesJUST WATCHEDHow do you make the ‘Drink of the Kentucky Derby’?ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
How do you make the ‘Drink of the Kentucky Derby’? 01:57 It has literary historyThe Kentucky Derby has been covered by some of America’s most famous writers. In 1925, New York sports columnist Bill Corum called the Derby the “Run for the Roses” because the winning horse gets draped in a garland of hundreds of red roses. In 1935, legendary Tennessee-born sports writer Grantland Rice described the race like this:”Those two minutes and a second or so of derby running carry more emotional thrills, per second, than anything sport can show.”His phrase has since been shortened to describe the Derby as “the most exciting two minutes in sports” or “the greatest two minutes in sports.”In 1955, American author William Faulker, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize and a Southerner like Rice, covered the race for Sports Illustrated. This what he wrote:William Faulkner”So it is not just betting, the chance to prove with money your luck or what you call your judgment, that draws people to horse races. It is much deeper than that. It is a sublimation, a transference: man, with his admiration for speed and strength, physical power far beyond what he himself is capable of, projects his own desire for physical supremacy, victory, onto the agent — the baseball or football team, the prize fighter. “Only the horse race is more universal because the brutality of the prize fight is absent, as well as the attenuation of football or baseball — the long time needed for the orgasm of victory to occur, where in the horse race it is a matter of minutes, never over two or three, repeated six or eight or 10 times in one afternoon.” READ: How a young Qatari sheikh shook up the sport of kings Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades Fashion through the decades – As the 2016 Kentucky Derby kicks off, we take a look at some of the most eye-catching fashions through the decades. Hide Caption 1 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades Early days – The Derby first launched in 1875, and up until the turn of the 20th century women could be seen wearing hats, gloves, and long dresses down to their ankles.”At any social outing in America at that time, you would have worn a hat and gloves — and the Kentucky Derby was no different,” said Chris Goodlet, Curator of Collections at the Kentucky Derby Museum.“Many women would have worn silk because of the warm weather, and be carrying a parasol.”This image features race-goers in 1926.Hide Caption 2 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1929 – In the 1920s, women would also been seen wearing tailored suits. Hats and gloves were still in vogue. Hide Caption 3 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1938 – Suits continued to be the outfit of choice for both men and women in the 1930s. “In fact, in the 1930s and 1940s the formal suit seemed to be more popular than the dress,” said the Kentucky Derby on its website. Hide Caption 4 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades Look closer in the top left of this 1940 image, and you’ll see a race in action.Hide Caption 5 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1954 – The 1950s saw women wear a more princess-style dress, with billowing skirts and fitted waists. Hide Caption 6 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1966 – In the 1960s, hemlines were on the rise. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe at Australia’s Melbourne Cup, model Jean Shrimpton was causing a stir in a miniskirt that “stopped the nation.” “By the time you get to the 1960s wearing hats was no longer typical,” said Goodlet.”But the Derby keeps this tradition — even when other social occasions don’t.” Hide Caption 7 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1970 – Would you believe it. This couple aren’t wearing hats or gloves, and the woman’s dress hemline is a good few inches above her knees! Welcome to the 1970s. Hide Caption 8 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1988 – In the 1980s, the bigger the better. Big hat brims, big shoulder pads, and judging by this race-goer, a big smile. Hide Caption 9 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1988 – Bold prints and multi-colored suits make the 1980s a fashion decade to remember.Hide Caption 10 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1989 – “In the 1970s and 1980s there was a return to the longer skirt, while the same casual attitude of the 1960s was still in place,” said the Kentucky Derby website. Hide Caption 11 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1992 – “In the 1990s, the dress at the Derby continued to replace the suit, especially with younger women,” added the Derby website.”While gloves have become out of fashion, a hat never is, and the hats tend to get wilder and more expensive as the years go on.”Hide Caption 12 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1993 – We’ll never know if their horse won. But the pink and pearls combo is a 1990s winner. Hide Caption 13 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 1993 – “The style in the infield is relaxed, with women wearing cool sundresses, cotton skirts, or more frequently shorts,” said the Derby website of 1990s styles.Hide Caption 14 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 2002 – The 21st century is here. And the tradition of race-goers making their own fantastical hats which started in the 1960s, continues to this day.Hide Caption 15 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 2010 to 2012 – Feminine, wide-brimmed hats with a floral or feather adornment were popular in the 2010s.Hide Caption 16 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 2012 – A colorful crowd at the 2012 Derby.Hide Caption 17 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 2014 – Two years later the hats appear to have downsized.Hide Caption 18 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 2015 – Race-goers analyze programs at last year’s Derby.Hide Caption 19 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 2015 – Nicknamed the “Run for the Roses” due to the blanket of roses draped on the winning jockey, the Derby has long inspired red accessories among race-goers.Hide Caption 20 of 21 Photos: Kentucky Derby: Fashion through the decades 2015 – And after a long day of placing bets, cheering horses, and drinking mint juleps, sometimes you just want to put your fashionable feet up. Hide Caption 21 of 21 It has legendary winnersIn 1973, Secretariat won the Derby in a time of one minute, 59.4 seconds, a record that still stands to this day. By comparison, last year’s race was won by Justify, ridden by jockey Mike Smith, in a time of two minutes, 4.2 seconds, in what was the wettest in the event’s history, with more than 3 inches of rain.Secretariat, also known as “Big Red,” went on to clinch the Triple Crown in 1973, ending a 25-year wait.
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) March 27, 2018 In 2006, Barbaro captured the public’s imagination with an epic Derby win followed by a heroic fight against injury. After becoming only the sixth horse to win the Derby with an unbeaten record, Barbaro looked like he could be on the way to the Triple Crown when disaster struck in the Preakness Stakes two weeks later — he shattered his leg shortly after getting out of the starting gates. Barbaro was put down by his owners eight months later, unable to overcome the complications he had suffered after the accident.The beloved Barbaro won the Derby in 2006 by seven lengths.But his fight to overcome his injury triggered an outpouring of public support for the horse and his owners the world over. His ashes are now buried at Churchill Downs, while a bronze statue of the horse was erected at the race track in 2009. In 2015, American Pharoah became the first horse to win the coveted Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. The horse made the cover of Sports Illustrated and was photographed by US fashion magazine Vogue.Last year, Justify became only the 13th horse to clinch the coveted Triple Crown. He was retired, unbeaten, in July, with his hall-of-fame trainer Bob Baffert saying the chestnut colt was struggling from fluid in his left front ankle. Justify retired to a lucrative stud career with $3.9 million in earnings on the track, which is not a bad return for a horse that cost $500,000. READ: Triple Crown winner Justify retires from racingJUST WATCHEDDubai World Cup returns with record $35M purseReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH (10 Videos)Dubai World Cup returns with record $35M purseGran Premio Latinoamericano: South America’s showpieceSkijoring: The crazy cocktail of skiing and horse racingSt. Moritz’s beautiful and glamorous White TurfWinning Post’s Aly Vance learns to play polo in UruguayInside the ‘most exciting 2 minutes in sports’The Hong Kong Jockey ChampionshipsTraining the “horse America bred” in KentuckyThe Laytown RacesFive reasons why Winx has been unbeatableIt attracts the rich and famousThe Derby has always been a draw for the rich and famous, with some of the biggest stars in sports, fashion and Hollywood mixing with royalty.Previous Derby guests include Britain’s Princess Margaret, boxer Muhammad Ali, US presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, Hollywood legends Lana Turner and Bing Crosby, baseball star Babe Ruth and in recent years, singer Justin Timberlake, actor Jack Nicholson, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and NFL star Eli Manning. Justify crosses the finish line at last year’s Kentucky Derby. The favorite tends to do wellLast year’s win by Justify marked the sixth year in a row the pre-race favorite had won the race, the most since the 1890s. This year’s race doesn’t have a clear favorite, with Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach, ridden by last year’s winning jockey Smith and trained by Richard Mandella, at 6-1 at UK bookmaker William Hill. The next three favorites are all trained by five-time Derby winner Baffert, with Roadster and Game Winner at 7-1, followed by Improbable at 8-1.