LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Everybody is willing to tell you who is going to win the Kentucky Derby. The problem is, nobody really knows who is going to win it.
So I offer some facts. Sure, they're useless facts, and won't earn you a dollar at the track. But maybe you can win some bets while hanging around with your friends. The following minutiae largely comes from Churchill Downs sources, the media guide, other publications, or from the Kentucky Derby Museum itself, which is, in the end, the best place to go to get into the Derby spirit every year, without fail.
These are in no particular order. Memorize them, and you can ace any test the Kentucky Derby may throw at you:
1. In 139 runnings of The Kentucky Derby, there have been 1,807 starters, with names beginning with every letter of the alphabet except "X." Horses beginning with the letter "S" have won 19 times, most recently Super Saver in 2010. The letter "B" has produced the next-highest number of winners, 13, most recently Big Brown in 2008. "C" has 11 winners, but hasn't had one since Charismatic in 1999.
2. Kentucky Derby No. 138 in 2012 was the most attended Kentucky Derby ever, with a crowd of 165,307 (impressive, since it was the second-wettest Derby ever, more on that in a bit). It was the second straight record-breaking Derby crowd, after a total of 164,858 watched the 2011 race. The third most-watched Derby was in 1974 -- 163,638. Last year's Derby attendance was well off, 151,616, in part because of wet weather. A near-record Oaks crowd of 113,820 helped last year's combined Derby-Oaks attendance break the track record.
3. The state of Kentucky has produced the most Kentucky Derby winners, 106. The second-most? Florida. With six. Virginia has four, California and Tennessee have three each, while Canada, England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas have two each. Of this year's field of 19 horses, 12 were bred in Kentucky, two in New York, two in Florida, one in California, one in Louisiana and one in Ontario, Canada.
4. The most frequent color for Kentucky Derby winners has been bay, with 52. Others: Chestnut 45, Brown 17, Dark Bay/Brown 10, Gray/Roan 8, Black 4, Dark Bay 3. Orb, the winner in 2013, was bay. The last black horse to win the Derby was Flying Ebony in 1925.
5. Thirty-seven winners of the Kentucky Derby won the race 10 days or fewer after their last start. But that's a practice that is long gone. Orb won the Derby 35 days after his last start a year ago. Animal Kingdom had a layoff of 42 days before winning the Derby in 2011, the longest ever. The shortest layoff before the Derby: a dozen horses have won just four days after their last race, most recently Tim Tam in 1958. The last horse to win the Derby off a single-digit layoff was Alysheba, nine days, in 1987.
6. The race field has grown steadily each of the past five decades, from an average starting field of 12.6 horses in the 1960s to an average of 18.7 in the 2000s, with only a slight dip from 1990 to 1999. Since 2010, the average has been 19.5 starters. Two scratches already this year ensure that the Derby will not have a full field of 20 for the third time in four years and fourth time in six years. The Largest Derby field was 23, for the 100th running of the race in 1974. The smallest field was just three, in 1905, during a period when the race was threatened by rival races.
7. Winning Colors (1988), Genuine Risk (1980) and Regret (1915) are the only fillies to win the Kentucky Derby. Each raced against males prior to running in the Derby. The last to try it were Devil May Care in 2010 and Eight Belles, who finished second in 2008 before suffering injuries that forced her to be euthanized immediately after the race. It may be a while before another filly tries the Derby. The new Race to the Derby points system requires any filly wishing to try to the Derby to have run against males -- and earn points with good finishes -- before running for the roses.
8. Geldings have had a bit more success in the Kentucky Derby. Vagrant (1876), Apollo (1882), Macbeth II (1888), Old Rosebud (1914), Exterminator (1918), Paul Jones (1920), Clyde Van Dusen (1929), Funny Cide (2003) and Mine That Bird (2009) are the only geldings to win the Derby. A total of 113 geldings have run in the Derby since 1908 (records prior to 1908 are incomplete) and nine were post-time favorites (1876 winner Vagrant also was the favorite).
9. Here's the breakdown of what a typical Kentucky Derby crowd will consume: 142,000 hot dogs, 18,000 barbecue sandwiches, 11,520 gourmet sausages, 13,800 pounds of beef, 9,700 pounds of chicken, 4,500 pounds of pork chops, 560 roasted turkeys, 32,400 jumbo shrimp, 9,000 scallops, 8,000 pounds of potatoes, 6,480 pounds of tomatoes, 1,892 sheets of Derby Pie, 30,000 cookies, 300,000 strawberries. Rick Bozich consumes about one half of a package of Twizzlers. Jody Demling and I take care of the rest.
10. And, of course, the breakdown of what a typical Kentucky Derby crowd will drink: 120,000 Mint Juleps, 40,000 Oaks Lilies, 7,000 litres of bourbon, 475,000 pounds of shaved ice (for the juleps and lilies), 425,000 cans of beer.
11. The oldest owner to win the Kentucky Derby was Frances A. Genter with Unbridled in 1990. The oldest trainer to win it was Charlie Wittingham, who won with Ferdinand in 1986. Ferdinand also featured the oldest jockey to win it, 54-year-old Bill Shoemaker.
12. D. Wayne Lukas has saddled the most Derby starters in history: 47.
13. The most Derby starts for any jockey is 26, by Shoemaker.
14. The youngest jockey to win the Derby was Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton, who was 15 when he won it in 1892.
15. Calumet Farm has won the Derby more than any other breeder, nine times. Calumet also is the winningest owner, with eight.
16. The winningest Kentucky Derby trainer is "Plain" Ben Jones, with six.
17. Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack share the jockey record for most Derby wins, with five.
18. The oldest living Kentucky Derby winner is Sea Hero, who won the race in 1993 and is 24 years old.
19. There have been 24 unbeaten horses enter the Kentucky Derby since 1900. Only seven won the race, the last Big Brown in 2008.
20, The winningest Derby post position has been the No. 1 post, with 12 winners, but no one has won from the No. 1 post since Ferdinand in 1986 and no horse out of the No. 1 hole has even been in the money since Risen Star finished third in 1988.
21. Eleven Kentucky Derby winners have gone on to sire Kentucky Derby winners. The last was 1990 winner Unbridled, who sired 1996 winner Grindstone.
22. The largest margin of victory in Kentucky Derby history was eight lengths, shared by four winners: Old Rosebud (1914), Johnstown (1939), Whirlaway (1941) and Assault (1946).
23. The largest margin of victory since Assault in 1946 was Mine That Bird's 6 3/4-length win in 2009.
24. Eight Derby winners have come from last place to win the roses. The last was Mine That Bird in 2009.
25. The record for wagering on the Kentucky Derby was $187 million in total wagers in 2012. The Las Vegas total for legal wagering on the Super Bowl in 2012 was $119 million (from ESPN's Darren Rovell, courtesy of Sports Business News).
26. Churchill Downs sold 984,564 pari-mutuel tickets on the Kentucky Derby in 2013. Of those, 183,467 were cashed (and 26,033 were canceled).
27. Churchill employed 1,105 pari-mutual employees in 2013; 948 of those were tellers.
28. A total of $150.6 million, 81.6 percent of the money wagered, was paid to customers with winning tickets in 2013.
29. The record payout for a $2 Derby win bet was Donerail in 1913, who returned $184.90.
30. The record low for a $2 win bet was $2.80, shared by Count Fleet in 1943 and Citation in 1948.
31. The record $1 superfecta payoff was in 2005: Giacomo-Closing Argument-Afleet Alex-Don't Get Mad. The payoff: $865,253.40. I didn't have it.
32. The Kentucky Derby trophy is 3.5 pounds (56 ounces), and is 22 inches tall, including its jade base.
33. The red rose became the official flower of the Derby in 1904. The garland of roses is made up of 400 "Freedom" roses sewn into the blanket. Sixty matching long-stemmed red roses, wrapped with 10 yards of ribbon, make up the winning jockey's bouquet. The Kentucky Derby winner's circle is dressed with 2,100 roses. Churchill Downs also has 250 rose bushes around its facility, plus 12,000 tulips planted and 400 other trees and shrubs. It grows 22,000 roses in a greenhouse.
34. The longest stretch of wet Derbys in the race's history is going on right now, from 2007 to present. The longest stretch of consecutive dry Derbies is 12, from 1875 to 1886.
35. There has been at least a trace of precipitation on 65 of the 139 Derby days. The most was 2.31 inches in 1918. The second-wettest Derby was in 2012, 1.46 inches. The third-wettest was 2010, 1.32 inches.
36. There was sleet for the 1989 Derby. It snowed the following morning. I was there.
37. The warmest Derby was 94 degrees in 1959. The coldest was 47 in 1935 and 1957. The average high on May 3 is 74, and average low is 53.
38. The Derby has been run on a track rated "fast" 96 times. It has been run on seven tracks rated "muddy" and seven rated "sloppy."
39. There are 1,600 televisions inside the Churchill Downs track, including the new $12 million "big board," the largest screen in the world with 4K resolution.
40. The 2013 Kentucky Derby telecast drew 16.2 million viewers for its race portion a year ago, the second-most watched Derby since 1989. The viewership of 16.5 million in 2010 was the most-watched Derby in 21 years.
41. There have been 35 horses enter the Kentucky Derby with $1 million in earnings. Only one, Street Sense in 2007, won the race.
42. Mike Battaglia has been Churchill Downs’ morning-line oddsmaker since 1974. The 2014 Kentucky Derby marks his 41st morning line for the race. His morning-line favorite has gone off as the race favorite 32 out of 40 times.
43. The Kentucky Derby has been run at its present distance, 1 1/4 miles, for the past 118 years. For its first 21 runnings, the distance was 1 1/2 miles.
44. The purse for this year's Kentucky Derby is $2 million guaranteed, as it has been since 2005. The winner gets an estimated $1.24 million, with $400,000 going to second place, $200,000 to third, $100,000 to fourth and $60,000 to fifth.
In 1996 the Derby became the first Triple Crown race to offer a $1 million purse. The purse went to $500,000 in 1991, $250,000 in 1982, and $100,000 in 1946. The purse for the first Kentucky Derby was $1,000.
45. Attendance at the first Kentucky Derby was just under 10,000.
46. The phrase "Run for the Roses" was coined by New York sports columnist Bill Corum, who would later become president of Churchill Downs.
47. In 1969, Diane Crump became the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby and the first to ride in a pari-mutuel race in North America.
48. "My Old Kentucky Home," the song played when the horses are led onto the track, was first played at the Derby -- by the University of Louisville marching band -- in 1936.
49. The fastest Derby run was by Secretariat in 1973, at 1:59.40. The slowest run was by Stone Street in 1908, at 2:15.20.
50. The record-holder for Red Smith Writing Awards, given annually until a couple of years ago by the track for best work covering the race, is Rick Bozich, with 11. Read his coverage, and mine, at WDRB.com following the race.
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