CRAWFORD | Kentucky Derby Fun Facts while you wait for post time - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Kentucky Derby Fun Facts while you wait for post time

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WDRB photo by Eric Crawford. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Derby is steeped in history. You can't always see it around you, with all of the new construction and modernization at Churchill Downs.

But the history is there, nonetheless. The following is an attempt to capture some of that history. Others might call it useless trivia. Either way, it passes the time until post-time.

None of these facts will earn you a dollar at the track. But some might keep you from losing a little. They are culled from Churchill Downs sources, stealing shamelessly from track public relations director Darren Rogers, or from the Kentucky Derby Museum itself.

Let's get started. Not in post-position order.

1. In 140 runnings of The Kentucky Derby, there have been 1,826 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 12 winners, reaching that mark when California Chrome won last year.

2. Today's Derby weather is expected to produce a record crowd for the event. 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. Last year's crowd of 164,906 was the second-largest in the history of the event, and last year's Derby-Oaks combined attendance was a new record — 277,977, breaking the old record of 277,859 set in 2012.

3. When he won last year's Derby, California Chrome became the fourth California-bred to win the race. That placed California into a tie with Virginia for producing the fourth-most Derby winners. Florida ranks No. 2 on the list with six. The state of Kentucky has produced the most Kentucky Derby winners, 106. Of this year's field of 18 horses, 14 were bred in Kentucky, two in New York, one in Ontario, Canada, and one in Ireland.

4. The most frequent color for Kentucky Derby winners has been bay, with 52. Others: Chestnut 46, Brown 17, Dark Bay/Brown 10, Gray/Roan 8, Black 4, Dark Bay 3. California Chrome, the winner in 2014, was chestnut. 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. California Chrome won the Derby off a 28-day layoff last year. Orb won the Derby 35 days after his last start two years 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 19.4 starters. Two scratches already this year ensure that the Derby will not have a full field of 20 for the fifth 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). An interesting note on this year's field — it includes two “ridglings,” or colts with an undescended testicle, American Pharoah and Far Right.

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. Executive chef Dave Danielson told WDRB this week that the track will use about 9,000 pounds of New York strip, 12,000 pounds of turkey breast, 14,000 pounds of pot roast and 9,000 pounds of mashed potatoes. 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, but his former assistant, Todd Pletcher, is closing in on him. Assuming both send all their entries to post today, Lukas will have 48, and Pletcher 23.

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. Big Brown's son, Dortmund, is one of two unbeaten colts expected to start this year's Derby. He is 6-for-6 lifetime. Materiality is 3-for-3.

20.  After California Chrome's victory last year, there's now a tie for winningest post position. Chrome's win from the No. 5 hole was the ninth since Churchill Downs began using a starting gate in 1930. The No. 10 post also has had nine winners, the last being Giacomo in 2005. No 17 is the only post in current use that hasn't had a Derby winner. It was to have been the post for favorite American Pharoah, but the scratch of No. 12 International Star this morning means American Pharoah will break from the No. 16 post, which has produced four winners. Aside from No. 17, the post positions with the longest droughts are No. 15, the first post in the auxiliary gate, which last won with Carry Back in 1961, and the No. 12 hole, whose last winner was Cannonero II in 1971.

21. Eleven Kentucky Derby winners have gone on to sire Kentucky Derby winners. The last was 1990 winner Unbridled, who sired 1996 winner Grindstone. Big Brown could become No. 12 if Dortmund wins today. Street Sense, sire of Ocho Ocho Ocho, has an outside chance at that distinction.

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 $186.9 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. The most-watched Kentucky Derby on television was in 1975, with 26.8 million viewers. It kicked off a run of five straight Derbies with at least 20 million viewers, and seven out of eight. The race hasn't topped the 20 million mark since 1983.

27. After California Chrome's win last year, the favorite now has won back-to-back Derbies. That's the first time that has happened since four straight favorites won the race from 1972-75 (Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Cannnonade, Foolish Pleasure).

28. After Specacular bid won as the favorite in 1979, a favorite wouldn't win for 20 straight years, until Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. The favorite then lost seven more in a row before Big Brown in 2008.

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 ended last year, going from 2007 through 2013. The longest stretch of consecutive dry Derbies is 12, from 1875 to 1886. Today should mark a second in a row with no recorded precipitation in Louisville.

35. There has been at least a trace of precipitation on 65 of the 140 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 $12 million "big board," the largest screen in the world with 4K resolution.

40. The 2014 Kentucky Derby telecast drew 15.4 million viewers for its race portion, the third-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 37 horses enter the Kentucky Derby with $1 million in earnings. Only two, Street Sense in 2007 and California Chrome last year, won the race. There are four this year after the scratch of International Star — Carpe Diem, ($1,519,300), Mubtaahij ($1,461,335), American Pharoah ($1,411,500) and Dortmund ($1,289,400), 

42. Mike Battaglia has been Churchill Downs' morning-line oddsmaker since 1974. The 2015 Kentucky Derby marks his 42nd morning line for the race. His morning-line favorite has gone off as the race favorite 33 out of 41 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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