The Kentucky Derby, which debuted in 1875, is the longest-running sporting event in the U.S. Also called "The Run for the Roses", this event is the most exciting two minutes in sports. It even happened during The Great Depression and World Wars I & II.
In 1872, when Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of William Clark (yes of Lewis and Clark) – traveled to Europe and attended the Epsom Derby in England, a well-known horse race run since 1780. Clark, inspired by his travels and experiences, wanted to create a spectacle horse racing event back home. With the help of his uncle’s John & Henry Churchill, who donated to Clark the land to for a racetrack, and by formally organizing the Louisville Jockey Club, Clark and his new club raised funds to build a permanent racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. On May 17th, 1875, the racetrack opened its gates and the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the very first Kentucky Derby.
The Derby has its own traditions outside of the horses that make it a celebration of southern culture and an American Icon, such as the ever popular mint julep, and fancy hats. The hats became more extravagant in the 1960s, when social fashion rules loosened up and the sport being televised gave women a reason to stand out.
Kentucky Derby in Chicago
While you may not be in Kentucky, you can don your best chapeau and fancy dress (or suit) and head out to the many locations around Chicago that will be televising the derby.