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A Brief History of The Kentucky Derby - fastest two minutes in sports

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, May 22, 2014 @ 09:09 AM

Kentucky Derby founder Col. M. Lewis Clark was inspired by the horse racing that he enjoyed while traveling in England and France. Upon his return to the US in 1874, Clark began working toward his goal of stabling a horse racing tradition, to enhance the existing horse breeding industry in Kentucky. The initial construction of Churchill Downs was financed through the sale of track memberships and the land was leased from two of Clark’s uncles, John and Henry Churchill - thus the iconic name Churchill Downs.

AFIRST2ONE OF THE EARLIEST KENTUCKY DERBY WINNERS - RACE FOR THE ROSES

More than 10,000 guests were in attendance at the opening event at the very first Kentucky Derby, held May 17, 1875 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The winner of the first Kentucky Derby was a three-year-old chestnut colt, Aristides.

churchill downs main entrance photo 1THE FAMED WINNERS CIRCLE OF CHURCHILL DOWNS - SINCE 1875

Horse racing did not become popular right away. The significant investment was not generating sufficient revenue. It was not until 1903 that the Kentucky Derby finally showed a profit under the leadership of a team headed by the renowned Matt Winn.

In the early 1900’s there were movements in nearby states to abolish horse racing. Kentucky was able to weather the storm unharmed, although the movement in 1945 again threatened its existence. The Derby maximized their exposure with news of the first filly to win the Derby in 1915. As the Derby continued to grow in popularity, gifts, such as a gold buffet service, a magnificent cup, candlesticks and a handsome trophy began to be presented to the winner each year beginning in 1922-1924. The race was even broadcast over the radio, beginning in 1925.

kentucky derby race horse photo 1THE TWIN-SPHERES - AS SEEN JUST ABOVE A THOROUGHBRED IN STRIDE

Although the 1930’s began with the introduction of the starting box in the Kentucky Derby, the Great Depression caused the Kentucky Derby annual tradition to be interrupted for several years. As things started to get better, in 1938, a tunnel that led from the grandstand to the infield was constructed and opened to the public for an admission price of 50 cents.

It was 1949 when the 75th Kentucky Derby was televised locally. After Matt Winn passed away, Bill Corum took over and made numerous improvements such as: CBS affiliate broadcasts the Derby on TV nationwide, barns were upgraded to concrete firewall construction, additional seating was added, the race was filmed to allow for replays, an automatic sprinkler system was installed in the grandstand and clubhouse.

kentucky derby race horse photo 2THE LEGENDARY SECRETARIAT WITH JOCKEY RON TURCOTTE ASTRIDE

More improvements were made during the 1960’s. In 1973, Secretariat’s electrifying record breaking 1:59 2/5 time at the Kentucky Derby and his subsequently dramatic Triple Crown win, the first in 25 years, brought the general public's focus to horse racing. In 1974, a record breaking 163,628 people flocked to the Churchill Downs to see the 100th Kentucky Derby.

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, more than $25 million was invested into improvements and an aggressive marketing campaign ensued. The Derby also benefitted from the introduction of simultaneous wagering systems and the launch of www.kentuckyderby.com.

kentucky derby race horses photo 1THE KENTUCKY DERBY - "THE GREATEST TWO MINUTES IN ALL OF SPORTS"

From the year 2000 until today, the Kentucky Derby has continued to evolve. Improvements to the grounds, including security enhancements and increased television coverage, brought record numbers of attendees to the Derby. Many of the earliest traditions of the Kentucky Derby have remained throughout the years, such as the special occasion stunning ladies hats and the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep. It is an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint, and sweet syrup which is served in a sought after commemorative Kentucky Derby glass.

kentucky derby mint julep glasses 1

 RACE FOR ROSES - LOUISVILLE - THE KENTUCKY DERBY

World Renowned Collector of Historical Memorabilia, Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and has had a love for the Kentucky Derby all of his life. Among the most prized items in The Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection is an extensive collection of Official Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Glasses. Although more than 500,000 are produced each year in modern times, only 25,000 or less had been produced each year for the Kentucky Derby in its earliest years.

Raleigh DeGeer AmyxCOLLECTOR AND RESPECTED AUTHORITY ON HISTORICAL MEMORABILIA - RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX

Mr. Amyx has had the good fortune to acquire several museum-quality relics, over a 30 year period, of international importance. Most of the items from this Collection will be sold by RRAUCTION.COM on September 17th & 18th, 2014, live in Boston, Massachusetts.

Serious collectors who would like to discuss these or other museum quality historically significant items are invited to contact Mr. Amyx for a confidential discussion, or better yet simply contact rrauction.com and register for this important event.

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