Before you throw on that seersucker suit and start downing mint juleps, take a few minutes to watch some of the finest races in Kentucky Derby history.
1. Secretariat, 1973
The Derby was the first of three battles between Sham and Secretariat. There was negative buzz surrounding Big Red when he arrived in Louisville, with Jimmy "The Greek" Synder telling anyone who would listen that the horse was lame after sustaining an injury in the Wood Memorial. Despite the negative fallout from his performance in the Wood Memorial, Secretariat entered as a 3-2 favorite. In front of a record crowd, Big Red took his time out of the gate, breaking dead last. By the first turn the world's greatest race horse began to make his move, with Ron Turcotte targeting the outside. It became clear by the time the horses made their turn for home that it was a two horse race between Sham and Secretariat. In the end, Secretariat won by 2 1/2 lengths while setting the record for the Derby. Secretariat's 1:59.4 time remains the best in Derby history.
2. Monarchos, 2001
Songandaprayer set a blistering pace in the opening half mile, which set the record as the fastest in Derby history. Jorge F. Chavez kept Monarchos in the mix and made his move at the top of the stretch on the outside. The final 1,235 feet (turn to finish) was electrifying. Monarchos found another gear leaving Invisible Ink and Congaree in the dust. Monarachos and Secretariat are the only two horses to break the 2 minute mark at the Derby (1:59.97).
3. Northern Dancer, 1964
A common theme between our top five Derbies is that the winning horse started slow. Northern Dancer could be found at the back of the pack after the first quarter mile. The fast pace proved too draining for the lesser horses, opening the door for Northern Dancer. The Canadian horse took the lead at the top of the stretch and had to hold off Hill Rise in the final lengths. A little known fact about Northern Dancer is that he was ridden by Secretariat's jockey, Ron Turcotte, in his first career victory.
4. Affirmed, 1978
Affirmed and Alydar are the Ali-Frazier trilogy of horse racing. It all started with the familiar sounds of "My Old Kentucky Home" at Churchill Downs. Affirmed got off to a good start with the favorite Alydar falling far behind. Affirmed began attacking after the far turn and seized the lead by the time the field was turning for home. The stretch was a battle. Alydar made his move up to second, ending the race directly in Affirmed's rear view mirror. The horses would turn in two more hard fought battles with Affirmed coming out on top in the Preakness and the Belmont. Affirmed is the last horse to win the Triple Crown.
5. Winning Colors, 1988
Let's give it up for the ladies. Winning Colors was the third and last filly to win the Kentucky Derby. Unlike her male competition on this list, Winning Colors bolted out to an early lead and never relinquished it. The final stretch was tense with Forty Niner breathing down her neck, but WC had enough in the tank to hold him off, winning by a head. There have only been 22 wire-to-wire winners in Derby history. WC was inducted to the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 2000.