Saturday is Kentucky Derby day, and it’s going to be a big one. Last year the event drew a record-breaking 170,513 spectators. People travel from all over to see 20 of the finest 3-year-old thoroughbreds compete in the first leg of the Triple Crown – a series of three big-name races that also includes the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
So what’s the big deal? If you’ve never attended a race before, the significance of it all may be lost on you. I’ve only been to one race before, but I can tell you, the Kentucky Derby has earned the moniker “the most exciting two minutes in sports” for a reason. Somewhere between the pounding hooves, the crowds collectively holding their breath, the commentator buzzing, you get swept away in the magic of it all. You don’t even want to blink during the two minutes because anything can happen on that track, and it happens in a split-second.
Last year, the Kentucky Derby favorite, American Pharoah, made history by winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes (thus winning the Triple Crown). The feat hadn’t been accomplished since 1978. This year, there is a new horse in town and his name is Nyquist.
Nyquist has taken part in seven races up to this point, and won them all. All of the races have been grade 1 or grade 2 events, which are the most challenging and feature the toughest competitors. American Pharoah went into the Kentucky Derby with four wins under his belt, so Nyquist seems to be even more competitive than his predecessor.
While the majority of us aren’t able to travel to Kentucky to attend the highly-esteemed event, we can all tune in and watch it on NBC. The race starts at 6:34 PM ET on Saturday. A lot of pre-game festivities will be taking place at Churchill Downs, and you can get involved from the comfort of your home by whipping up a mint julep (the official beverage of the Derby), pulling out a stylish sunhat and getting in a couple rounds of the Kentucky Derby-themed slot game, Derby Dollars.