The Kentucky Derby is one of the most popular horse races on the planet that has rich history and tradition. The Kentucky Derby started in 1875 when the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the first run of the race.

Nowadays, the Derby is the longest-running sporting event in the country, that managed to organize a race every year since then, including during the Great Depression.

The Kentucky Derby grew into a worldwide event where all the fastest horses are scheduled to appear.

This made the race much more interesting and resulted in some memorable appearances that found themselves in the history books. You can find here a complete list of the past winners:

So, without further ado, let’s highlight some of the biggest horse names in Kentucky Derby history and their memorable appearances.


Even if you are not a horse racing enthusiast, you’ve definitely heard about the name ‘Secretariat’. There are many movies, books, and documentaries for this horse that dominated the Kentucky Racecourse in 1973. This was the 99th Kentucky Derby race and it was an unbelievable event since the Secretariat had an incredible run.

This horse managed to set a Derby record, completing the course in 1:59:40, and went on to win the Triple Crown. Even after so long, the Secretariat still holds the stakes record for all of the three races of the Triple Crown.


Even though the Kentucky Derby is an exciting race to watch, having a close rivalry between two horses makes the race even more fun to watch. Affirmed became the 12th winner of the Triple Crown-winning title in 1978 and all of the races including the Kentucky Derby were very fun to watch thanks to its rivalry with Alydar.

Both horses have considered an equal favorite at that time just because their previous results were neck-and-neck. However, Affirmed managed to pull through and will all three races.

Big Brown

It is always fun to watch when an underdog takes the title in a horse race, and a similar thing happened in the Kentucky Derby in 2008. Big Brown became the only horse to break from post 20 (in the modern era of horse racing) and win the Kentucky Derby.

Post 20 is the most unwanted place in a race and a death knell for any horse that is forced to break from there as fast as possible. Oddly enough, Dutrow had a choice to go for 1, 2, 18, 19, and 20, and Dutrow went with 20 and managed to win the Derby.

This was one of the most spectacular Kentucky Derby appearances we’ve seen for a while.

Mine That Bird

Here we have another fascinating Kentucky Derby race with Mine That Bird in the 2009 Derby. The horse was the second-longest price in the history that ranks his Kentucky Derby win so high. The race was spectacular as you can see Borel rub some of his boot polish on the fence as he runs past Join In The Dance.

The best thing about this race is that Tom Durkin, the race caller, completely misses Mine That Bird when finished first and had to re-gather his composure.

Being 5th in the last stretch of the race, Mine That Bird came running fast from the inside line surpassing every horse in the race and making a huge lead. Even though Mine That Bird never won another race, this is still one of the most talked-about races in the history of the Kentucky Derby.


The 2001 Kentucky Derby was another jewel of a race that brought so much excitement for the fans. After a record half-mile fraction of 44.86 set by  Point Given, everyone’s eyes were locked on this horse hoping for a new Kentucky Derby record.

However, Point Given loses its pace and Monarchos came charging down in the center of the track. The best thing about this race is that Monarchos managed to get a final time of 1:59 and 4/5 seconds making him as fast as the Secretariat!

This is the only horse, besides Secretariat that managed to run in less than 2 minutes on the Kentucky Derby.