Kentucky Derby Frequently Asked Questions

Kentucky Derby Frequently Asked Questions

In the days before the running of the Kentucky Derby, there are always plenty of questions being asked about the race, its long history, and the horses entered in the race. To help provide some answers (and help you impress your friends with your knowledge of Derby trivia!), here are the answers to five Kentucky Derby Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How many horses have won the Kentucky Derby while undefeated?

In this year’s Derby, Dortmund and Materiality will enter the starting gate having never lost a race–Dortmund has gone unbeaten in six starts, while Materiality has compiled a perfect 3-for-3 record. Over the years, unbeaten horses have enjoyed a fair amount of success in the Derby, with Regret becoming the first unbeaten Derby winner exactly 100 years ago in 1915. Since then, Morvich (1922), Majestic Prince (1969), Seattle Slew (1977), Smarty Jones (2004), Barbaro (2006), and Big Brown (2008) have all achieved the coveted feat of winning the Derby while undefeated.

2. Who will Calvin Borel ride in the Derby?

No jockey draws more attention in the lead-up to the Derby than Calvin Borel, who achieved the remarkable feat of winning the race three times in four years from 2007-2010. Since then, Borel’s mounts have had less success–he’s only hit the board once, with Revolutionary (3rd) in 2013–but that could change this year with Borel scheduled to ride El Kabeir in the Derby. The son of Scat Daddy has compiled an excellent race record thus far, hitting the board in all nine of his starts while winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), Jerome Stakes (gr. III), and Gotham Stakes (gr. III) in impressive fashion. Most recently third in the Wood Memorial (gr. I), El Kabeir will be a longshot in the Derby, but with Calvin Borel in the saddle, there’s a good chance that El Kabeir will receive a ground-saving “Bo-Rail” ride, and that could be all the colt needs to get involved for a strong finish.

3. When was the last time that the two Derby favorites were both trained by the same trainer?

With Bob Baffert training the top two favorites in this year’s Kentucky Derby (American Pharoah and Dortmund), it’s natural to wonder when was the last time in history that a trainer experienced such success in the lead-up to the Derby. It turns out that the last trainer to start the top two favorites in the Derby was Bobby Frankel in 2003, when he sent out Empire Maker as the favorite at odds of 5-2 and Peace Rules as the second choice at 6.30-1. But of course, training both of the favorites doesn’t guarantee victory–Empire Maker and Peace Rules finished second and third, beaten to the wire by longshot Funny Cide. 

4. Which Derby winner was sent off at the highest odds?

The longest-priced winner in the history of the Kentucky Derby was Donerail in 1913, who was sent off at an incredible 91.45-1 and returned $182.90 for every $2 wagered! The second-highest payout in history occurred much more recently, when Mine That Bird scored a stunning 50.60-1 upset in 2009. Those odds narrowly eclipsed the previous second-highest record of 50.30-1 set by Giacomo in 2005.

5. Who will win the Kentucky Derby?

Naturally, the most frequently asked question of all in the lead-up to any Derby is which of the twenty horses will win! Unfortunately, this question won’t have an answer until after the race, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to guess! With a few days left before the Derby, my choice is American Pharoah, but that could change depending on the results of the post position draw, which will be held this afternoon at 5:30 EST. Stay tuned to The Turf Board and follow us on Twitter (@TheTurfBoard) to receive real-time updates as the post positions are assigned!

Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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Wow! Thanks for the history trivia.