The Kentucky Derby is the most famous horse race in the world and the most sought after prize for horse owners and breeders. 2012 marks the 138th race, and excitement is steadily brewing for the big race in May.

The Kentucky Derby was first opened in 1875, the year Churchill Downs was opened by Col. M. Lewis Clark. He set up three major stakes races for the new track to emulate the three premier races in England: the Epsom Derby, Epson Oaks, and St. Leger Stakes. Thus were created the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, and Clark Handicap in the USA, all of which are still run today. A Statue of the first Derby winning horse, Aristides, a chestnut colt whose stands in the garden behind the clubhouse.

Matt Winn took over the track in 1902. Winn was an amazing promoter and turned the track around to show its first profitable year in 1903, 28 years after it first opened. Winn was responsible for several expansions and improvements to the track and used publicity to build the Kentucky Derby into the major racing event it is today.

Today the race attracts thousands of attendees from around the world, many A-List Celebrities, and is also known for the outfits that attendee’s wear. It has become a Spring Fashion Showcase. Besides being an exciting horse race, it is also host to to a weekend full of fun and fabulous parties and entertainment, and lots of socializing .

Horse Racing Fans across the country follow the prospects for the race starting in January, when the first prep races are run, up until the event. Millions tune in to watch the race on TV. Internationally, millions more place their bets on their favorite horse, with the first future bets usually starting up right after the Breeders’ Cup races the previous year. Fans place a minimum $2 bet on the Derby, whether it is at a simulcast outlet, OTB, race book, or online wagering service.