What is the Kentucky Derby?

the most prestigious horse race in the United States.

When is the Kentucky Derby?

The first Saturday in May

What time does the Kentucky Derby start?

12:00 PM

What channel is the Kentucky Derby on?

The 2021 Kentucky Derby will air on May 1 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.


Louisville is known for a number of things. There’s something for everyone. If you’re a boxing fan or just like his humanitarian efforts, there is the Muhammad Ali Center. If you’re a baseball fan, they have the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.

Kentucky Derby 2021

There’s also the Kentucky Derby. If it’s your first time hearing the term, it’s the most prestigious horse race in the United States. It, along with Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, make up the sport’s coveted triple crown. A horse by the name of Essential Quality appears to have the best chance of winning this year’s derby at 2-1 odds.

Some of you may be interested in a horse by the name of Bourbonic ridden by Louisiana native Kendrick Carmouche. Carmouche seeks to be the first African American jockey in 119 years to win the Kentucky Derby. Horse racing is definitely not new to Louisiana’s Cajun country. The area has produced a few Kentucky Derby winners.

When planning to attend the Derby, there is a fairly wide range of ticketing options ranging from around $80 into the thousands. Some people get to the city by the Saturday before to enjoy the festivities and ticketed events to be held that Saturday all the way through to Derby day. The higher-end tickets are for dining hospitality seating. The day before the Derby is the Kentucky Oaks event which is ticketed as well.

Controversy in Louisville

It’s hard to talk about the Kentucky Derby and ignore the controversy surrounding, Essential Quality owner and Dubai Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. There is speculation Sheikh Mohammed had a role in the 2018 “virtual” disappearance of his daughter Sheikha Latifa. There are reports she may be being held captive against her will in a villa without windows and manned by guards.

This past Wednesday, human rights lawyers and University of Louisville students filed a complaint with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission asking it to bar Sheikh Mohammed and Essential Quality from the race. Late the next day, the commission decided it would not sanction Sheikh Mohammed or his horse.   

As a contrast, you may also be aware this is the city where Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by a police officer during a botched police raid. It’s one of the reasons the U.S. Justice Department, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, launched a probe of the Louisville Police Department and Louisville-Jefferson County government. This probe will focus on whether the police routinely used unreasonable force on suspects and protesters as well as whether they routinely conducted unconstitutional searches.

There is much to talk about in this city these days. Kentucky has always been a state that has struggled with its identity somewhat. I’m naturally curious how all this works out. Until then, let’s just enjoy the race.

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  1. Louisville Events and Kentucky Tourism Information. https://www.gotolouisville.com/. Accessed 29 Apr 2021.
  2. Louisville 2021: Best of Louisville, KY Tourism. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g39604-Louisville_Kentucky-Vacations.html. Accessed 29 Apr 2021.
  3. Derby Horses | 2021 Kentucky Derby & Oaks. https://www.kentuckyderby.com/horses. Accessed 29 Apr 2021.
  4. U.S. to probe Louisville, Kentucky, police after Breonna Taylor death. https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-launch-review-louisville-kentucky-police-abc-news-2021-04-26/. Accessed 29 Apr 2021.
  5. Drape, Joe. “Running for the Roses, the Record Books, and His Father.” New York Times, 28 Apr 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/28/sports/horse-racing/kentucky-derby-carmouche.html. Accessed 30 Apr 2021.
  6. Drape, Joe. “We know where the Sheikh’s horse is. But where is his daughter?” New York Times, 29 Apr. 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/29/sports/horse-racing/kentucky-derby-sheikh-mohammed-dubai.html. Accessed 30 Apr 2021.
  7. Nicholson, Jamie and Drager, Marvin. “Kentucky Derby”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 Sep. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/sports/Kentucky-Derby. Accessed 30 April 2021.


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