What to know about the 2021 Kentucky Derby

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The Kentucky Derby is one of the most iconic sporting events in the world. Every year, millions of fans tune into NBC to watch top race horses from around the globe compete in “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports.”

The 2021 Kentucky Derby will air on May 1 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage is also available to stream live on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports will also air the Kentucky Oaks the day before on Friday, April 30 from 12 to 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Fans are expected to return to Churchill Downs after the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted last year’s race. Thee 146th Kentucky Derby was moved from Saturday, May 2 to Saturday, Sept. 5 and was run without fans in the stands. Several top jockeys were also noticeably absent, choosing to stay at their home tracks due to quarantine rules.

What is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby, historically on the first Saturday in May, is one of the most well known Grade 1 Thoroughbred stakes races in the world. First run in 1875, this 1 1/4 mile—or 10 furlongs—race kicks off the American Triple Crown of horse racing.

When and where is the 2021 Kentucky Derby?

The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Watch NBC Sports’ coverage from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 2:30 to 7:30 on NBC, or on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Post time for the 2021 Kentucky Derby is set for approximately 6:57 p.m. ET.

The Derby is run on the dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, where it has been held since its inaugural running in 1875.

How can I watch the 2021 Kentucky Derby?

NBC is home to the 147th Kentucky Derby, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app before, during and after. NBC will also broadcast the 2021 Kentucky Oaks, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup.

How are horses picked for the Derby?

Only 3-year-old Thoroughbreds can qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Eligible horses compete in the Race to the Kentucky Derby, a series of 35 races around the world. Horses win points for finishing in the top four spots, and the 20 horses with the most points at the end of the series gain entry into the Derby. (However, sometimes horses will scratch, giving another the opportunity to run in the Derby.)

Who won the 2020 Kentucky Derby?

Authentic shut down Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law’s run at a Triple Crown when he outdueled the favorite to win an unusual September Kentucky Derby at a spectatorless Churchill Downs. This was the sixth Kentucky Derby victory for his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, and it was jockey John Velazquez’s 200th Grade 1 stakes win.

He went on to place second in the 2020 Preakness Stakes behind filly Swiss Skydiver in October and won his final start in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November. He then retired to stud and was named the 2020 Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Male.

What are the biggest Kentucky Derby traditions?

Bold formal outfits for both men and women are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby. Celebrities and fans a like go all out, donning creative and colorful hats, bright colors and wild patterns. In fact, hats and outfits are such a big part of the Kentucky Derby that the Derby Museum has a whole exhibit for the most lavished fashions.

The Mint Julep, made with Kentucky bourbon, is the signature drink of the Derby, and Kentucky’s state song “My Old Kentucky Home” is played during the pre-race post parade. After the race, the champion horse is given the iconic garland of roses in the winner’s circle.

Betting and horse racing go hand in hand. There will be a whole weekend of stacked racing cards at Churchill Downs, but the Derby takes the betting cake.

Watch the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Full coverage is also available on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.