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Kentucky Derby 2023: What is the fastest time ever run in the Kentucky Derby?

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Take a look back at Secretariat earning the first jewel of his Triple Crown run with a still-standing track record time on the 50th anniversary of his historic Kentucky Derby win.

Each year, the world’s finest Thoroughbreads gather to race in “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” While most horses who achieve winning status do so in a time slightly above two minutes, there is one number that stands above the rest as the fastest in Kentucky Derby history.

See below to learn more about the fastest time ever run at Churchill Downs.

RELATED: What to know about the 149th Kentucky Derby

Which horse ran the fastest time in Kentucky Derby history?

The fastest Kentucky Derby time ever recorded came from Big Red himself, as Secretariat completed the 1973 Run for the Roses in 1:59 2/5. Secretariat’s triumph came in what is believed by most to have been the greatest horse race of all time.

Secretariat’s rival, Sham, led for the majority of the thrilling contest. Big Red, however, promptly narrowed the gap in the finishing stretch and surpassed the leader in the Derby’s final moments with a two and a half length win. Secretariat’s recorded time was a world record.

While there have been 148 victors of the Kentucky Derby throughout history, only two of these winners have officially completed the race in under two minutes.

RELATED: How to watch the 2023 Kentucky Derby: TV channel, live stream

It is commonly believed that Sham cracked the two-minute race time in the 1973 Derby alongside Secretariat, but only the number of the first-place finisher was officially recorded at that time in history.

The other Thoroughbred to have completed the Derby under the two-minute mark was Monarchos. The 3-year-old and his jockey, Jorge Chavez, finished the 2001 Kentucky Derby in just 1:59.97.

What other records did Secretariat break?

Aside from posting the fastest Derby time in history, Big Red still holds a number of records in American horse racing. At the age of three, Secretariat set the record in each of the Triple Crown races, achieving the following times:


  • Kentucky Derby - 1:59 2/5
  • Preakness Stakes - 1:53
  • Belmont Stakes - 2:24

The infamous horse was named the ninth American Triple Crown winner in history, and each of his Triple Crown records still stand to this day.

RELATED: Secretariat at 50: How the Big Red Five have kept the story alive

What is the slowest winning time in Kentucky Derby history?

While today’s Thoroughbreds are constantly seeking to break the two-minute time, the winner of the 1891 Kentucky Derby nearly reached three.

The slowest winning time in Kentucky Derby history came from Kingman and jockey Isaac Murphy, who claimed the Run for the Roses title in 2:52. With just four horses in the race, each jockey was under orders to hold off, running abreast until one would make a move.

Eventually, Murphy caved and allowed Kingman to surpass the field, claiming a Derby trophy in what is believed to be the worst Kentucky Derby of all time.

How to watch the 2023 Kentucky Derby:


  • Date: Saturday, May 6
  • Time: Live coverage begins at 12 PM ET
  • Where: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
  • TV Network: NBC
  • Streaming: Peacock, NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

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Watch the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 6 on NBC, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock from 12 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET.