The Top 10 Fastest Kentucky Derby® Winners

Posted by Evan Chronis on February 02, 2021

Two minutes. 

If a horse can finish the 'Run for the Roses' in that time, they are bound for the record books. Winning the Kentucky Derby® is the most prestigious prize in thoroughbred racing, but finishing the sprint in record time is the cherry on top that separates the collection of winners from the all-time greats.

Fastest Kentucky Derby Times

Here are the 10 fastest Kentucky Derby® winners of all-time:

10. Funny Cide, 2003

Time: 2:01.19

Our list kicks-off with the first gelding to win the Kentucky Derby® since 1929. Funny Cide clocked in at 2:01.19 to etch his way into the top 10 of our list. The New York-bred steed came up short of the Triple Crown™ after coming in third at Belmont Park, following a victory at the Preakness Stakes. 

9. War Emblem, 2002

Time: 2:01.13

Led by legendary trainer Bob Baffert, War Emblem immortalized himself by winning the 2002 Kentucky Derby® in almost record time. War Emblem also won the Preakness Stakes that year but failed to secure the final jewel of the Triple Crown after placing eighth in the Belmont Stakes. 

8. Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000

Time: 2:01.12

A favorite and an immaculate comeback. Fusaichi Pegasus became the first favorite to win the Kentucky Derby® in over 20 years after completing a come-from-behind victory from 15th place at the 2000 Kentucky Derby®. He retired later that year after going unplaced in the Breeders' Cup Classic. 

7. Grindstone, 1996

Time: 2:01.06

Grindstone didn't know the 1996 Kentucky Derby® would be his last race, but he wound up going out with a bang. Having to retire soon after the contest due to an injury, Grindstone cemented his name in the record books with one of the top Derby performances of all-time. 

6. Proud Clarion, 1967

Time: 2:00.60

Everyone loves a good underdog story. At 30/1 odds, Proud Clarion surprised most of the bettors at the 1967 Kentucky Derby® with an upset victory. He failed out of a Triple Crown™ bid after finishing third at the Preakness Stakes. 

5. Decidedly, 1962

Time: 2:00.40

At the time of his victory in 1962, Decidedly came the closest of any horse to break the 2 minute flat mark in the Kentucky Derby®. Decidedly had genetics on his side, as he was sired by Determine, the winner of the 1954 Derby. Determine finished the 1954 Kentucky Derby® in 2:03.00.

4. Spend a Buck, 1985

Time: 2:00.20

Spend a Buck not only made a splash at the 1985 Derby, but also in the decision to skip out on potential Triple Crown glory by foregoing the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in the same year. Instead, Spend a Buck's team focused on the $2 million Jersey Derby, which he won. 

3. Northern Dancer, 1964

Time: 2:00.00

This Canadian steed held the record for the fastest Kentucky Derby® time for almost a decade after running the Race for the Roses in two minutes flat. Northern Dancer followed up his success at Churchill Downs® with a victory at the Preakness Stakes, but fell short of the Triple Crown™ after finishing in third place at the Belmont Stakes. 

2. Monarchos, 2001

Time: 1:59.97

Don't call it a comeback. Monarchos shocked onlookers at the 2001 Kentucky Derby® after roaring back from 13th place to win the race by a commanding 4 3/4 lengths. Monarchos is only the second Derby winner ever to break the sub-two minute mark. 

1. Secretariat, 1973

Time: 1:59.40

The true king of thoroughbred horse racing gets another jewel on his illustrious crown by holding the record for the fastest Derby time ever. Secretariat clocked in at 1:59.40 at the 1973 Kentucky Derby®, an all-time record for the race and for the 1 1/4 mile track at Churchill Downs®. The legendary horse went on to win the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, both races he also holds the fastest record for, to win the Triple Crown™. 

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