History of the Kentucky Derby: A Short Documentary



the Kentucky Derby surrounded by a

wealth of tradition and history is

touted as one of the greatest sporting

events in the world but for many people

it's more than just a sporting event the

Kentucky Derby has become a celebration

of Southern culture and an event

cemented in Kentucky history people from

all over the world gather at Churchill

Downs in Louisville Kentucky on the

first Saturday in May dressed to the

nines donning a beautiful hat all while

sipping a mint julep and singing my old

Kentucky home today the Kentucky Derby

is the longest-running sporting event in

the nation and has remained

uninterrupted since its debut in 1875

rain or shine the Derby continues it has

even persisted in times of hardship such

as the Great Depression World War one

and World War two it all began in 1872

while Meriwether Lewis Clark the

grandson of the famous explorer William

Clark was traveling in Europe Clark

attended the Epsom Derby in England

where he was inspired to open his own

racetrack in Louisville Clark wanted a

way for people to showcase the Kentucky

breeding industry and so after his

return from Europe he began the design

and development of his racetrack

thanks to the generosity of his uncle's

John and Henry Churchill who leased him

80 acres of their own land

Clark was able to build the track about

three miles south of downtown Louisville

with the help of his uncle's Clark

became the president of what is known as

the Louisville jockey club a club formed

by a number of wealthy horse race fans

who assisted Clark and raising the

needed support for the track the track

would later become known as Churchill

Downs in honor of Clark's uncles on May

17th 1875 the track was finally open to

the public and included a grandstand

Clubhouse and stables

however the grandstand we know today

which features the twin spires wasn't

introduced until 1895 the day's events

included four different races three of

which were created specifically for the

track's official grand opening these

included the Kentucky Derby the Kentucky

Oaks and the Clark handicap each of

which were modeled after races in

England approximately 10,000 spectators

showed up to witness the first annual

running of the Kentucky Derby as fifteen

three-year-old thoroughbred horses ran a

one and a half mile race the Kentucky

Derby has been through many changes over

the years everything from the size of

the crowds to the shortening of the race

however through each development it has

embraced the test of time by continually

honoring the spirit of the famous race

set forth all those years ago yet one

thing remains true the history and

tradition behind this great race

continues to grow stronger with each

passing year