How Long is the Kentucky Derby? (How Many Miles and How Much Time Will it Take in 2023?)

Distance and time for Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Distance and time for Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. / Associated Press

The 2023 Kentucky Derby is set for Saturday, May 6, with an estimated post time of 6:57 p.m. ET. The 149th Run for the Roses will occur at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, as it does annually.

The Kentucky Derby is the most well-known horse race in the world, pinning the best 3-year-old thoroughbreds against each other, and it sets the stage for the sport's grandest prize: the Triple Crown.

For an event that carries so much fanfare, it can often feel like the Kentucky Derby is over in the blink of an eye. Here's everything you need to know about how long the race is.

What is the Distance of the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is officially measured at 10 furlongs. While that might be meaningful to a horse racing diehard, it doesn't give much context to casual viewers. The race is a little over one full run around the dirt-covered track. That makes it a one-and-one-quarter (1.25) mile or two kilometer race in its entirety.

How Much Time Does the Kentucky Derby Take?

The Kentucky Derby has been aptly nicknamed "the most exciting two minutes in sports." While most years the winning time comes in just over two minutes, the all-time record for the fastest Kentucky Derby time was by Secretariat, who is considered by almost everyone to be the best racing horse ever. He ran the Kentucky Derby in 1973 at 1:59.40, just breaking the two-minute mark and setting a world record in the process. Of course, the race isn't technically over until the final horse crosses the finish line. The final horse tends to finish anywhere from 25 to 65 lengths behind the winner, adding a few seconds to the length of the actual race.

How Long is the Track at the Kentucky Derby?

With the Kentucky Derby race being a little more than one lap, that means the track at Churchill Downs is actually not 1.25 miles like the race is. The oval racetrack that the Kentucky Derby is run on measures out at 1 mile.

How Long is a Furlong?

A furlong is a measurement of 1/8th of a mile, or 220 yards. It's an imperial unit of measurement that dates back to farming terms in Old English times, coming from the words furh (furrow) and lang (long). It's a relatively archaic form of measurement that was once a standard measure around agricultural fields, but in the United States is now used almost exclusively in horse racing.

Check out more Kentucky Derby coverage from The Duel:


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David Kaestle is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username davekaestle. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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