The Most Famous Kentucky Derby Winning Horses In History

The Most Famous Kentucky Derby Winning Horses In History
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The Kentucky Derby will celebrate its 150th running on Saturday, May 4. Not only is the spectacle the preeminent race in America for thoroughbred horses, but the Derby is also the oldest continuously held major sporting event in the United States.

Each year, up to 20 horses race before Churchill Downs’ famed Twin Spires in hopes of wearing the garland of roses presented to the winner and joining a special group of colts (along with nine geldings and three fillies). However, with 149 previous winners, some end up becoming more famous than others., your source for Kentucky Derby odds and sports betting news and analysis, wanted to know which Derby winner is the most famous. We utilized the quiz site’s “Can you name the Kentucky Derby Winners?” quiz, which has been taken by 33,400 people. We determined the most famous Kentucky Derby-winning horses by using the percentage of people who got each horse correct on the quiz. 

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Winning Year

% Correct

1. Secretariat



2. American Pharoah



3. Justify



4. Mage



5. Big Brown



6. Seattle Slew



7. California Chrome



8. Rich Strike



9. Country House



10. Orb



Most Famous Derby Winning Horse Is The GOAT

It shouldn’t come as a complete shock that eight of the 10 listed above are among the 16 most recent Kentucky Derby winners, including last year’s – Mage. However, it’s not an upset by any stretch that the most famous winner claimed his more than 50 years ago.

Considered by many as the greatest thoroughbred racehorse of all-time, Secretariat didn’t just win the 1973 Kentucky Derby. He became the first horse to run the 1-1/4 miles in less than two minutes. In fact, his time of 1:59.4 still holds up as the track record at that distance today. He’d later win the Preakness and Belmont in record fashion and become the first Triple Crown winner in a quarter century. Seattle Slew would become a Triple Crown winner four years later.

The list above includes the two most recent Triple Crown winners (American Pharoah and Justify) as well as the two most recent Derby winners (Rich Strike and Mage). Rich Strike and Country House are also two of the biggest longshots to ever win a Derby, with a $2 win bet on Rich Strike paying out $163.90, while bettors holding a $2 win ticket for Country House got $132.40.

Who will win this year’s Kentucky Derby? The post-position draw takes place this Saturday evening at 7:15 p.m.

No matter which horse you like, is your favorite source for Kentucky sportsbook promos and for horse racing wagering.

USA Today photo by Scott Utterback.



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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