The Best Kentucky Derby Winners of All Time

Posted by Jaclyn Harris on Wed, Feb 12, 2014

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most exhilarating thoroughbred races to watch! Each year, we keep track of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, holding our breath to see which 3-year-olds will have the points to qualify, wondering which will change history with the potential of becoming a Triple Crown champion.

We’ve compiled a list of the best Kentucky Derby winners of all time! Take a look:

5. Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew was the Kentucky Derby champion in 1977, and was undefeated throughout his season. With a rough start from the gate at Churchill Downs, fans believed that the Derby might be his first loss, but Seattle Slew came back from behind to win with a time of 2:02.20. He continued on to win the Triple Crown and was the only thoroughbred to do so with an undefeated record.


4. Assault

Assault made his strike in 1946 when World War II was over and the nation was continuing to rebuild after the Great Depression. Assault gave the US something to cheer about in his dominating season, and won the Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:06.60. He then went on to win the Triple Crown.

3. War Admiral

War Admiral is commonly recognized for “The Race of the Century,” where he fell to Seabiscuit. Prior to this race, War Admiral wowed his fans by winning the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown in 1937. He won the Derby with the time of 2:03.20 by grabbing the lead from the start and holding on to it throughout the entire race.

2. Affirmed

Affirmed, the great-great-grandson of War Admiral, made his mark by dominating all of the races he was eligible to run. This 3-year-old year will go down in history as one of the greatest in the modern racing era. He faced his greatest rival, Alydar, in the Kentucky Derby and won in one of the most intense rivalries in racing. Affirmed won with a 2:01.20 time, and has been the only Triple Crown champion since 1978.

1. Secretariat

Time for number one on our list: the 1973 Kentucky Derby champion, Secretariat. His racing career got off to a slow start and picked up with the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat holds the fastest run ever for the Derby at Churchill Downs with a time of 1:59.40! He then went on to win the Triple Crown, creating unbeatable record times for both the Preakness Stakes (1:53) and the Belmont Stakes (2:24).

Notable Mentions

Whirlaway (1941)

Sir Barton (1919)

Spectacular Bid (1979)

Attend the Kentucky Derby and See History Be Made

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