The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

The Kentucky Derby: "Run for the Roses"

The Kentucky Derby is a one-and-one-quarter-mile stake race for three-year-old Thoroughbred colts, geldings, and fillies.  The Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks are the oldest continuously contested American sporting events and the only Thoroughbred stakes races run annually at the same site since it began in 1875. Not only will one see horses, hats, seersucker, and bow ties, the Derby has evolved into an entire month of celebrations throughout Louisville known as The Kentucky Derby Festival. The Festival began in 1956 with the Pegasus Parade, produced for a mere $640. The premise of the early festival was to create a celebration allowing the entire community to participate in the excitement around the Kentucky Derby.  Despite being postponed in 2020, the Festival is still going strong, starting off with a bang at Thunder Over Louisville, and moving into some classics including the Balloon Fest, Pegasus Parade, and the Great Steamboat Race.  Here are a few items from our collections that represent the most exciting two minutes in sports history, and the fanfare surrounding it!


Heather Potter, Curator of Photographs & Prints