5 Fastest Kentucky Derby Times In History

There are few more celebrated sporting events on the planet than the Kentucky Derby. Staged annually on the first Saturday in May, the race pits together the best horses in the world aged three in the dirt.

The race forms the opening leg of the Triple Crown, with the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes taking place after the contest at Churchill Downs. Billed as the fastest two minutes in sport, the Kentucky Derby has produced some of the best winners in the history of a horse race, but which victors claimed success in the quickest finishing times?


The biggest legendary figure to have won the Kentucky Derby and to have the fastest Kentucky Derby track record remains the great Secretariat. The superstar landed victory in the race in 1973, completing the Churchill Downs circuit in 1:59.4.

It is the quickest time to have won the Kentucky Derby, and he would later break the speed records in both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. There was huge excitement around seeing Secretariat in the flesh, with over 134,000 spectators in attendance at Churchill Downs for a memorable day. He wasn’t set to disappoint the adoring audience, as he finished 2 ½ lengths clear of Sham.


The illustrious honor of holding the second-quickest finishing time in the Kentucky Derby belongs to Monarchos. The famous gray colt landed success in the 2001 edition of the race.

Despite holding the second-quickest winning time, he actually holds the third-fastest overall finishing time, as Sham finished in a quicker time when chasing Secretariat home. Overall, Monarchos landed victories in four of his ten career starts for trainer John T. Ward Jr, winning over $1.7 million in career earnings.

Northern Dancer

Northern Dancer completed the Kentucky Derby in the third-quickest finishing time back in 1964, as he crossed the line in 2:00.0. In the process, he made history by becoming the first Canadian-bred horse to win the opening Triple Crown race.

Northern Dancer was sent off as the second favorite in the betting, but he managed to outlast Hill Rise to win by a neck. The time was the quickest-ever finishing time in the Derby before 2001, and he would later claim success in the Preakness Stakes. However, his goal of the Triple Crown would eventually come up short, as he could finish only third in the Belmont Stakes.

Spend A Buck

Spend A Buck completed the race in the fourth quickest winning time in history, as he completed the Kentucky Derby in 2:00.2. The runner landed victory in the 1985 Kentucky Derby from Stephan’s Odyssey, who finished over 5 ¾ lengths behind the eventual winner.

However, trainer Cam Gambolati made the contentious decision to skip the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in preparation for the Jersey Derby, which offered a $2 million bonus. The three-year-old would land success in the race by a dominant margin. The success also saw Spend A Buck end his racing career with $4.2 million in prize money.  


Decidedly was a poignant winner of the 88th edition of the Kentucky Derby, as he claimed victory ten years after Determine achieved the feat. The three-year-old set the then-track record of 2:00.40 when winning the 1962 Derby, as he finished clear of the chasing pack.

However, there would be no further success in the Triple Crown series, as he was unplaced in both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. But, he did claim victories in eleven of his 43 career starts, and won over $318,989 in prize money. Since being sent to stud, he has sired nineteen future winners of stakes races in the United States.


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