Top 6 Fastest Kentucky Derby Race Times

Top 6 Fastest Kentucky Derby Race Times

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most famous horse races in the United States. It is held annually at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky since the first race in 1875. Jockeys race three-year-old thoroughbred horses in a two-kilometer race. Read more to learn about the fastest Kentucky Derby victory race times in the history of the race.


What are the best Kentucky Derby race times of all time?

  1. 1.59.40, Secretariat, 1973
  2. 1.59.97, Monarchos, 2001
  3. 2.00.00, Northern Dancer, 1964
  4. 2,00.20, Spend a Buck, 1985.
  5. 2:00.40, Decidedly, 1962.
  6. 2:00.60, Proud Clarion, 1967

1. Secretariat - 1:59:40 (1973)

Secretariat, one of the most famous racehorses of all time, currently holds the record for the fastest Kentucky Derby race of all time. Secretariat made history as the first racehorse to complete the Kentucky Derby in under two minutes during the 1973 Kentucky Derby. Ron Turcotte was Secretariat’s jockey. The 1973 Kentucky Derby was intense, as Secretariat raced against another famous racehorse, Sham, who had beat Secretariat at a race a few weeks before. Secretariat only took the lead in the final furlong during the race, making it an intense race to watch. After winning the 1973  Kentucky Derby, Secretariat went on to earn the Triple Crown.

2. Monarchos - 1:59:97 (2001)

The most recent race time on this race belongs to horse Monarchos and jockey Jorge Chavez from the 2001 Kentucky Derby. To this day, Monarchos is only one out of two horses to race the Kentucky Derby in under two minutes. The 2001 Kentucky Derby was the first to be televised, and Monarchos had a shocking race. Monarchos was in 13th place in the last quarter mile, then managed to outrun all the other horses at the end. Monarchos attempted to win the Triple Crown but did not win the Belmont or Preakness races.

3. Northern Dancer - 2:00:00 (1964)

Northern Dancer was the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby in two minutes flat in 1964. Northern Dancer was also the first Canadian-bred horse ever to win the Derby. In fact, Northern Dancer was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1965. Jockey Bill Hartack, who had won the Kentucky Derby on Decidedly two years prior, raced the horse. Following the Kentucky Derby, Northern Dancer tried to win the Triple Crown. Although the horse won the Preakness, he lost the Belmont. After Northern Dancer retired from racing, he became one of the most sought-after sires in the racing industry.

4. Spend a Buck - 2:00:20 (1985)

In 1985, Spend a Buck won the Kentucky Derby with jockey Angel Cordero Junior. The horse had a lead in the race from start to finish. After the race, Spend a Buck’s trainers decided to enter the horse into the Jersey Derby, which offered a $2 million bonus to the horse that won multiple races, including the Kentucky Derby. Although the decision to forego an attempt to win the Triple Crown was shocking to many, Spend a Buck did win the Jersey Derby and won a 2.6 million prize, which was the biggest purse in American racing history.

5. Decidedly - 2:00:40 (1962)

The race time of 2.00.40 minutes is the oldest race featured on this list. In 1962, jockey Bill Hartack raced the thoroughbred Decidedly. Determine, another racehorse who won the Kentucky Derby in 1954, sired the horse. When Decidedly won the Kentucky Derby, it was the closest a horse had ever gotten to break the two-minute mark, and so the horse set a new record for the Churchill Downs track. Following the Kentucky Derby Race, Decidedly competed in the remaining two U.S. Triple Crown Races. But, the horse did not place.

6. Proud Clarion - 2:00:60 (1967)

Proud Clarion unexpectedly won the Kentucky Derby, and with a time to land him on this list, in 1967. The day of the race, bettors indicated that Proud Clarion had more than 30:1 odds of winning the race. Bob Ussery was Proud Clarion’s jockey for the race. Proud Clarion started the race in ninth place, then at the mile mark Ussery advanced him to fifth place. Then, in the last furlong, Proud Clarion advanced past racehorses Damascus and Diplomat Way to win the race. After he won the Kentucky Derby, he finished third at the Preakness Stakes, making him ineligible for the Triple Crown.