The 2021 Kentucky Derby is back in its normal spot for the first weekend of May. The pandemic is slowly getting put behind us and things are getting back to normal. This is the first leg of the Triple Crown and known as the Run for the Roses.
I’m going to take a look at the last several Kentucky Derby winners and give a brief story on each. I have also made a list of the all-time Derby winners at the bottom of this article dating back to 1875.
Authentic was the second-ranked Horst on the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby. He was behind Tiz the Law, which went off in the Kentucky Derby as the 3/5 favorite. Because of the questions surrounding his stamina, Authentic was the third betting choice despite his strong speed numbers going into the race.
Due to some late scratches because of injury, Authentic was supposed to able to get an uncontested early lead that would have allowed him to save energy. He drew the outside post 18, which made the start very important. But Authentic got off to a slow start and Tiz the Law got the perfect trip in a stalking position.
Jockey John R. Velazquez knew he needed the lead so he urged Authentic into a four-wide position around the first turn and leading the first quarter at 22.92 seconds. Velazquez slows things down a bit and ran the half in 46.41 and the three-quarters in 1:10.23.
Tiz the Law made his move on the far turn and the two horses were head to head into the top of the stretch. Just as it looked like Tiz the Law was going to pass him, Authentic found a second wind and pulled a way for a 1 1/4-length victory while finishing in 2:20.61, which was the seventh-fastest time in Kentucky Derby history.
Country House won the 2019 Kentucky Derby in one of the most controversial decisions in the history of the event. As the race finished on a sloppy track, Country House finished second to Maximum Security, however, after a lengthy review, Maximum Security was disqualified for interference, and Country House was officially named the winner of the race. This was the first time in the history of the Kentucky Derby that the apparent winner was removed by disqualification.
Unfortunately for Country House and his team, this Kentucky Derby will likely always be remembered for Maximum Security’s disqualification. The interference did not seem to impact Country House at all, but did alter the course of several other horses, which likely did have an impact on the final results. Disqualifications like this are somewhat common in horse racing in general, but we typically do not see them in Triple Crown events. Most experts agree it was the proper decision given the infraction.
At 30/1 odds on the morning of the Derby, Country House is the biggest underdog to claim victory since Mine That Bird in 2009. His opening odds were set at 65-to-1, the second longest odds of all-time (Donerail, 1913).
Justify was the odds-on favorite the morning of the race, as well as at post time. He ran from the front on the sloppy track and finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of second place finisher Good Magic.
Justify was also the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year-old. The win broke the so-called “Curse of Apollo”, named after the last horse to win under those circumstances.
This victory also gave legendary trainer Bob Baffert his 5th Derby winner.
Always Dreaming was one of the favorites heading into the big race, but was not technically the odds-on favorite (Classic Empire was), so he finally broke the run of favorites taking home the Derby crown.
Nyquist made it four straight favorites to win the Derby. This horse was in it from the beginning and held off a late charge by Exaggerator, who started back in 15th place but closed fast at the end. Nyquist was the eighth undefeated winner in Derby history, the first since Big Brown back in 2008.
Yet another favorite taking first in the race. In fact, this horse carried it’s way through the Preakness and Belmont as well to win the Triple Crown. Not only that, but he brought home the Breeders’ Cup Classic to become the first horse to win the “Grand Slam” of American horse racing.
California Chrome made it back-to-back favorites to win the Kentucky Derby in 2014 following Orb’s performance. He won at 5/2 odds with a time of 2:03:66. He would go on to win the Preakness Stakes with a legitimate shot at winning the Triple Crown, but fell just short in the Belmont Stakes.
This was one of the rare favorites to actually win the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Joel Rosario positioned the colts toward the rear in the early stages of the race. Orb would be just behind the leaders heading into the final turn, and he caught them and then pulled away down the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
Opening at odds of 15-1 in what was an unusually strong field, I’ll Have Another surprised many in front of a record crowd of 165,307. He closed strong to catch the front-running Bodemeister just before the finish line to win by one and a half lengths. I’ll Have Another became the first horse in the history of the Kentucky Derby to win from post position 19.
On the morning of the Derby, Animal Kingdom had odds of 30-1, and by post time they dropped to 21-1. Many bettors were skeptical of this horse because it would be the first time that he would run on dirt. Out of post 16, Animal Kingdom torched the field, winning by 2 3/4 lengths.
Calvin Borel became the first jockey to win the Derby three times in four years aboard Super Saver in 2010. This was also the first win for legendary trainer Todd Pletcher in 25 entries at the Derby. Super Saver opened with morning odds of 15-1 before settling on 8-1 by race time.
Following overnight rain, Churchill Downs was sloppy for the 2009 Kentucky Derby. After having trouble out of the gate, Mine That Bird was left about eight lengths behind the field. He remained so far back down the backstretch that NBC’s announcer Tom Durkin at first didn’t see him. Using his ground-saving, rail-skimming technique, Calvin Borel charged past PioneeroftheNile and cruised to a six-length victory as a ridiculous 50-1 longshot. A $2 win bet returned $103.20.
Big Brown ran the 134th Kentucky Derby just as you would expect a 2-1 favorite to. He became the first horse since 1929 to win the race from the 20th starting gate, blowing past the field to a 4 3/4 lengths triumph. He posted an incredible 109 Beyer Speed Figure en route to victory.
Street Sense was a great story for the 2007 Kentucky Derby. Coming in as the favorite to win the race, it didn’t look good for Street Sense early, as he came out of the gates towards the back of the pack. Street Sense was then able to kick it in gear and was able to edge Hard Spun for the victory. Street Sense became the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to return in the spring and win the derby, after 23 previous horses had failed to complete the task. It’s also good to note that Street Sense is only the 3rd favorite to win in the last eight years.
Barbaro just might have been the best horse many of us have ever seen, as he simply dominated a very strong field to win the Kentucky Derby by 6 ½ lengths. Many people thought that Barbaro was destined to win the Triple Crown, but things took a tragic turn at the Preakness when he jumped the gates and ended up injuring himself so badly that it ended in a very sad death in the beginning of 2007.
Here is the last big upset to take place at the Kentucky Derby, as Mike Smith rode Giacomo at 50/1 odds to a victory at the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby. Giacomo made a lot of people happy as his odds gave a lot of better a very nice payday. This wasn’t an easy win for Giacomo as he only one by a slim 1 ½ lengths. Giacomo gives hope to all the horses that don’t come in with a great background, and keeps fans from closing in on just a few horses to have a shot to win the race.
Smarty Jones has got as close as you could get to taking home the Triple Crown. It all started with an impressive win at the Kentucky Derby. Then he went on to win at the Preakness, but fell just short of the Triple Crown with a 2nd place finish at the Belmont.
Here was another horse that came in and won the Kentucky Derby, then followed it up with a win at the Preakness. Needing a win at the Belmont for the Triple Crown, Funny Cide just didn’t have it in him and would up finishing 3rd, for a very strong performance in the big 3 race series. The thing that made Funny Cide so interesting was that he came from New York, where no horse had even been bred and go on to win the Derby. Funny Cide also didn’t have a big time trainer, as a group of small-time owners trained this horse to a historic run in 2003.
|2019||Country House||Flavien Prat||2:03.93|
|2017||Always Dreaming||John Velazquez||2:03.59|
|2015||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||2:03.02|
|2014||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||2:03.66|
|2012||I’ll Have Another||Mario Gutierrez||2:01.83|
|2011||Animal Kingdom||John Velazquez||2:02.04|
|2010||Super Saver||Calvin Borel||2:04.45|
|2009||Mine That Bird||Calvin Borel||2:02.66|
|2008||Big Brown||Kent Desormeaux||2:01.82|
|2007||Street Sense||Calvin Borel||2:02.17|
|2005||Giacomo||Mike E. Smith||2:02.75|
|2004||Smarty Jones||Stewart Elliott||2:04.06|
|2003||Funny Cide||José A. Santos||2:01.19|
|2002||War Emblem||Victor Espinoza||2:01.13|
|2001||Monarchos||Jorge F. Chavez||1:59.97|
|2000||Fusaichi Pegasus||Kent Desormeaux||2:01.00|
|1998||Real Quiet||Kent Desormeaux||2:02.20|
|1997||Silver Charm||Gary Stevens||2:02.40|
|1995||Thunder Gulch||Gary Stevens||2:01.20|
|1994||Go for Gin||Chris McCarron||2:03.60|
|1993||Sea Hero||Jerry Bailey||2:02.40|
|1992||Lil E. Tee||Pat Day||2:03.00|
|1991||Strike the Gold||Chris Antley||2:03.00|
|1989||Sunday Silence||Pat Valenzuela||2:05.00|
|1988||Winning Colors||Gary Stevens||2:02.20|
|1985||Spend A Buck||Angel Cordero, Jr.||2:00.20|
|1984||Swale||Laffit Pincay, Jr.||2:02.40|
|1983||Sunny’s Halo||Eddie Delahoussaye||2:02.20|
|1982||Gato Del Sol||Eddie Delahoussaye||2:02.40|
|1981||Pleasant Colony||Jorge Velasquez||2:02.00|
|1980||Genuine Risk||Jacinto Vasquez||2:02.00|
|1979||Spectacular Bid||Ronnie Franklin||2:02.40|
|1977||Seattle Slew||Jean Cruguet||2:02.20|
|1976||Bold Forbes||Angel Cordero, Jr.||2:01.60|
|1975||Foolish Pleasure||Jacinto Vasquez||2:02.00|
|1974||Cannonade||Angel Cordero, Jr.||2:04.00|
|1972||Riva Ridge||Ron Turcotte||2:01.80|
|1971||Canonero II||Gustavo Avila||2:03.20|
|1970||Dust Commander||Mike Manganello||2:03.40|
|1969||Majestic Prince||Bill Hartack||2:01.80|
|1968||Forward Pass||Ismael Valenzuela||2:02.20|
|1967||Proud Clarion||Bobby Ussery||2:00.60|
|1966||Kauai King||Don Brumfield||2:02.00|
|1965||Lucky Debonair||Bill Shoemaker||2:01.20|
|1964||Northern Dancer||Bill Hartack||2:00.00|
|1961||Carry Back||Johnny Sellers||2:04.00|
|1960||Venetian Way||Bill Hartack||2:02.40|
|1959||Tomy Lee||Bill Shoemaker||2:02.20|
|1958||Tim Tam||Ismael Valenzuela||2:05.00|
|1957||Iron Liege||Bill Hartack||2:02.20|
|1953||Dark Star||Henry E. Moreno||2:02.00|
|1952||Hill Gail||Eddie Arcaro||2:01.60|
|1951||Count Turf||Conn McCreary||2:02.60|
|1947||Jet Pilot||Eric Guerin||2:06.80|
|1945||Hoop Jr.||Eddie Arcaro||2:07.00|
|1943||Count Fleet||Johnny Longden||2:04.00|
|1942||Shut Out||Wayne D. Wright||2:04.40|
|1937||War Admiral||Charley Kurtsinger||2:03.20|
|1936||Bold Venture||Ira Hanford||2:03.60|
|1933||Brokers Tip||Don Meade||2:06.80|
|1932||Burgoo King||Eugene James||2:05.20|
|1931||Twenty Grand||Charley Kurtsinger||2:01.80|
|1930||Gallant Fox||Earl Sande||2:07.60|
|1929||Clyde Van Dusen||Linus McAtee||2:10.80|
|1928||Reigh Count||Chick Lang||2:10.40|
|1926||Bubbling Over||Albert Johnson||2:03.80|
|1925||Flying Ebony||Earl Sande||2:07.60|
|1924||Black Gold||J. D. Mooney||2:05.20|
|1921||Behave Yourself||Charles Thompson||2:04.20|
|1920||Paul Jones||Ted Rice||2:09.00|
|1919||Sir Barton||Johnny Loftus||2:09.80|
|1917||Omar Khayyam||Charles Borel||2:04.60|
|1916||George Smith||Johnny Loftus||2:04.00|
|1914||Old Rosebud||John McCabe||2:03.40|
|1912||Worth||Carroll H. Shilling||2:09.40|
|1908||Stone Street||Arthur Pickens||2:15.20|
|1907||Pink Star||Andy Minder||2:12.60|
|1906||Sir Huon||Roscoe Troxler||2:08.80|
|1903||Judge Himes||Hal Booker||2:09.00|
|1901||His Eminence||Jimmy Winkfield||2:07.75|
|1900||Lieut. Gibson||Jimmy Boland||2:06.25|
|1897||Typhoon II||Buttons Garner||2:12.50|
|1896||Ben Brush||Willie Simms||2:07.75|
|1888||Macbeth II||George Covington||2:38.00|
|1886||Ben Ali||Paul Duffy||2:36.50|
|1885||Joe Cotton||Erskine Henderson||2:37.25|
|1879||Lord Murphy||Charlie Shauer||2:37.00|
|1878||Day Star||Jimmy Carter||2:37.25|