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10 Facts About The Kentucky Derby That Will Make You Say "Whoa"

Fun Facts is in the lead, with OMG Who Knew trailing by a neck!

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1. The first Kentucky Derby ran in May 1875.

Ed Clark / Getty Images / Via Churchill Downs shown in 1945

The first horse to win was a 3-year-old colt named Aristides, and 10,000 people showed up to watch the race!

2. But now, an average of 150,000 people attend the Derby every year.

Eclipse Sportswire / Getty Images

That's more than the population of Hartford, Connecticut, and about a quarter of the population of Louisville itself!

3. The giant, extravagant hats that are so common today didn't actually become commonplace until the 1960s.

Stephen J. Cohen / WireImage / Getty Images, Icon Sports Wire / Getty Images, Eclipse Sportswire / Getty Images

Fashion has always played an important role in the Derby, but the prevalence of television and loosening fashion norms in the 1960s encouraged women to stand out more by wearing bigger, brighter, and more over-the-top styles.

5. Annnnd it costs another $25,000 if a horse is chosen to start (aka race) in the Derby.

Icon Sports Wire / Getty Images

SO MANY MINT JULEPS. And probably a really fancy hat, too.

6. Speaking of mint juleps, they have been the traditional drink of the Derby since the 1930s, and each year almost 120,000 are served throughout the weekend.

Horsephotos / Getty Images / Via Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire / Getty Images

That requires 1,000 pounds of fresh mint and 60,000 pounds of ice! And if you want to get really fancy, you can try a $1,000 mint julep — for charity. An annual tradition, this year’s edition of the $1,000 mint julep cup sale will benefit the Kentucky Derby Museum.

7. The purse for the race is a guaranteed $2 million, so, you know, it's worth the investment.

Eclipse Sportswire / Getty Images

The purse is divvied up between first, second, and third place; first place gets around $1.5 million. Enough to set yourself up in a nice stable of your own.

8. Especially given that the stud fees (or the money other horse owners will pay to breed their mares to a stallion) for Derby winners are almost double the entry fee.

John P Kelly / Getty Images

Nyquist, 2016's winner, is at stud for $40K for every healthy foal. But American Pharaoh, who became the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown in 2015, is at stud for $200K. This makes sense; foals are really freakin' cute.

9. A maximum of 20 horses can enter the Derby, and those 20 are chosen from...basically all the horses that have run in a given set of races that year.

Eclipse Sportswire / Getty Images

There's a point system! It's a little complicated, but basically, the more times a horse places in a race along the path to the Kentucky Derby, the more points they gain. The 20 horses that are top in points are chosen to run in the Derby.

You could say the Derby is like the Ivy League college of horse races.

10. The garland of roses presented to the winner is made up of more than 400 roses and is the source of the Derby's moniker the "Run for the Roses®."

Bill Frakes / Getty Images

The first garland was presented in 1896, and the red rose became the official flower of the Derby in 1904. Since 1987, the garland has been constructed at a local Kroger store, and anyone can go and watch it being made.

Don’t miss the excitement of the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday at 2:30 ET on NBC!

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