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10 Fastest Kentucky Derby Times

10 Fastest Kentucky Derby Times

Known as the “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” the Kentucky Derby is perhaps the most popular horse race in the world.

Since its inception in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has attracted large crowds and has seen some of the greatest racehorses ever. Held at Churchill Downs in Lexington, Kentucky, it is the first race in the coveted Triple Crown.

Here are the ten Fastest Kentucky Derby Times.

10. War Emblem, 2002, Time: 2:01.13

War Emblem, trained by legendary trainer Bob Baffert, took home the 2002 Kentucky Derby win with a time of 2:01.13. The colt went on to win the Preakness Stakes, but fell short in the final gem of the Triple Crown by coming in eighth in the Belmont Stakes.

War Emblem finished off his career with seven wins in 13 starts, earning a total of $3,491,000. In 2002, he also won the title of American Champion 3-Yr-Old Male Horse.

9. Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000, Time: 2:01.12

Fusaichi Pegasus won the 2000 Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:01.12, just barely faster than War Emblem. The striking bay colt was trained under the direction of Neil Drysdale. He was the first favorite to win the Kentucky Derby in 20 years and had an incredible come-from-behind victory.

Fusaichi Pegasus went on to win six of his nine starts, earning $1,994,400. In 2000, Coolmore Stud purchased Fusaichi Pegasus for a record $70 million. For several years, he split his time at stud between America and Australia before exclusively standing in Kentucky.

8. Grindstone, 1996, Time: 2:01.06

Grindstone won the 1996 Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:01.06, before his career was cut short due to an injury. Five days after his victory in the ‘The Run for the Roses’ a bone chip was discovered in his knee, leading to early retirement.

He became the first racehorse since Bubbling Over in 1926 to retire immediately after his Kentucky Derby victory. During his short-lived career, he won three of his six starts under the direction of trainer Darrell Wayne Lukas, earning $1,224,510.

7. Medina Spirit, 2021, Time: 2:01.02

Medina Spirit won the 2021 Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:01.02 under the guidance of trainer Bob Baffert. However, the win came with controversy after the dark bay colt tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone.

After failing the drug test, Medina Spirit placed third in the Preakness Stakes, but was banned from racing in the Belmont Stakes.

Sadly, the colt suddenly passed away on December 6, 2021, following a workout at Santa Anita Park. Medina Spirit won five of his ten starts, bringing in earnings of $3,545,200.

6. Proud Clarion, 1967, Time: 2:00.60

Proud Clarion won the 1967 Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:00.60 under the guidance of trainer Loyd Gentry, Jr. With an odds of 30/1 the bay colt won the race as an underdog.

Proud Clarion went on to place third in the Preakness Stakes and fourth in the Belmont Stakes. During his career, he won six of his 25 starts, bringing home $218,730 in earnings.

5. Decidedly, 1962, Time: 2:00.40

Decidedly won the 1962 Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:00.40 for trainer Horatio Luro. Despite his incredible win in the first leg of the Triple Crown, he did not place in either the Preakness or Belmont Stakes.

Decidedly is one of just eight gray horses to win the Kentucky Derby. During his racing career he won 11 of his 43 starts, earning a total of $318,989.

4. Spend a Buck, 1985, Time: 2:00.20

Spend a Buck won the 1985 Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:00.20 under the direction of trainer Cam Gambolati. Despite having such a fast time at Churchill Downs, his owners opted out of racing him in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Instead, his owners focused on winning the $2 million Jersey Derby, which Spend a Buck won. He went on to win 10 of his 15 starts, taking home $4,220,689 in earnings. In 1985, he won the U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt and also the United States Horse of the Year.

3. Northern Dancer, 1964, Time: 2:00.00

Canadian-born Northern Dancer won the 1964 Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:00.00. For almost a decade he held the record for the fastest win in ‘The Run for the Roses.’

Trained by Horatio Luro, Northern Dancer went on to win the Preakness Stakes, but came in just shy of a Triple Crown win by placing third in the Belmont Stakes. The bay colt won 14 of his 18 starts, making $580,647 in earnings. In 1964 he won the U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt and also the Canadian Horse of the Year.

2. Monarchos, 2001, Time: 1:59.97

Monarchos won the 2001 Kentucky Derby in incredible fashion with a time of 1:59.97. After being in 13th place, he took the track by storm, winning with a 4 3/4 lengths lead.

The striking gray colt went on to finish sixth in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes under trainer John T. Ward Jr. He wrapped up his career with four wins in 10 starts, with earnings of $1,720,830.

1. Secretariat, 1973, Time: 1:59.40

The fastest Kentucky Derby time of 1:59.40 minutes is held by Secretariat from the 1973 Derby. He is the only horse in the top ten Kentucky Derby fastest times to have won the Triple Crown.

Not only does Secretariat hold the fastest time for the Kentucky Derby, but he also holds the fastest times for the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes as well.

Affectionately known as Big Red, he was trained by Lucien Laurin and won 16 of his 21 starts, earning $1,316,808. The Hall of Fame Thoroughbred also won numerous honors, including 1972 American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, 1973 American Champion Three-Year-Old Male, and 1972-1973 American Horse of the Year.

Also Read: 8 Interesting Facts About Secretariat

J Harris

Wednesday 19th of January 2022

Incorrect list. As pointed out in the Secretariat biography, Sham ran second by two lengths in the '73 Derby. Even though there's no official time for horses other than the winner, you can extrapolate that Sham ran approximately 1.97.80 since the universal approximation for one length is 1/5 of a second. The two fastest Derby's in history were run THE SAME YEAR.


Tuesday 18th of January 2022

In 2020 Authentic won the Kentucky Derby in a time of 2:00.61. He has the 7th fastest time. You need to fix this list. Not sure why the omission.