LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — 147th Kentucky Derby: What to Know
Derby Weekend is finally here and during its usual time of the year, kicking off with the Kentucky Oaks Friday.
After last year's races at Churchill Downs were delayed with few spectators, this year, fans will be back in their seats to cheer on the racehorses. Whether it's your first derby or you're a seasoned veteran, here’s what you need to know for the 147th Run for the Roses.
It's known as the fastest two minutes in sports, but the Kentucky Derby has a long history nearing 150 years. Beginning in 1875, the 1 ¼ mile race kicks off the American Triple Crown of horse racing. It's typically held on the first Saturday of May, except twice. Once during World War II and last year, when it was pushed to September because of the pandemic.
The early favorite this year is Essential Quality with 2-1 odds and entering the derby as one of three horses that are undefeated. The other two are Rock Your World and Helium.
There's also a focus on one particular jockey. Kendrick Carmouche is the first black jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby since 2013 and one of just a handful in the past century. With racial issues highlighted during the pandemic, the history of black jockeys and their decline in racing due to Jim Crow laws and segregation was also a hot topic. Carmouche has said he hopes his presence is an inspiration.
With so many years behind it, the Kentucky Derby has been through changes, especially since the pandemic began. Just like last year, COVID-19 safety guidelines will be in place this weekend. All guests over the age of five are required to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose at all times, inside and outside the facility, except when eating or drinking. They're also encouraged to practice social distancing.
Churchill Downs takes these rules seriously - offenders will receive a warning and repeat offenders will be escorted from the area without refund. It’s all an effort to keep fans safe as they return to the races.