The Kentucky Derby Limit (2022)

Feature Article - June 1999
by Do-While Jones
For centuries, man has been breeding racehorses. For the past 104 years, he has been racing them on a 1¼ mile track at Churchill Downs in a race called the Kentucky Derby. This race is sometimes referred to as "the most exciting two minutes in sports" because the winning time is usually very close to 120 seconds.

Because of its association with gambling, thoroughbred horse racing may not enjoy as much respect as the breeding programs at prestigious universities. But fruit fly racing isn’t a major American sport, so Drosophila breeding doesn’t attract big bucks from corporate sponsors. On May 2, 1998, Real Quiet made a net profit of $738,800 for his owners in just two minutes and two and one-fifth seconds. Can you name any fruit fly that made nearly three quarters of a million dollars for the breeding scientist last year? We doubt it.

Our point is that money is a wondrously effective motivating force behind some serious breeding programs in countless stables that are not associated with universities. The goal of these breeding programs is to produce 3-year-old horses that can run 1¼ miles faster than any other horse born in the same year. What we want to know is, “Is there a limit to how fast horses can run? Or can horses continually evolve to run faster and faster without limit?”

This is important because the theory of evolution holds as one of its postulates that there is no limit to how much a species can evolve. Evolutionists say this lack of a limit allowed a dinosaur to evolve into a hummingbird. Creationists claim that species can only evolve within certain limits set by the amount of genetic variability in the critter’s DNA. Whose view is more consistent with the data?

Kentucky Derby Data

This year Charismatic won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. There was a possibility that he would win the Belmont Stakes and become a Triple Crown Winner. But he ran so hard that he broke his own leg and lost the Belmont Stakes. Have we reached the point where horses’ muscles are getting so strong that they are too strong for their own bones?

Here is a table of the Kentucky Derby winning times (in seconds) for the last 126 years. If you graph this data you can see there has been no noticeable improvement for the last 50 years. [This article was originally written in 1999; but the statistics have been updated to include Kentucky Derby results after 1999.]

(Video) Kentucky Derby 2022 (FULL RACE) | NBC Sports

1896128Ben Brush
1897133Typhoon II
1900126Lieut. Gibson
1901128His Eminence
1903129Judge Himes
1906128Sir Huon
1907132Pink Star
1908135Stone Street
1914123Old Rosebud
1916124George Smith
1917124Omar Khayyam
1919129Sir Barton
1920129Paul Jones
1921124Behave Yourself
1924125Black Gold
1925127Flying Ebony
1926123Bubbling Over
1928130Reigh Count
1929130Clyde Van Dusen
1930127Gallant Fox
1931121Twenty Grand
1932125Burgoo King
1933126Brokers Tip
1936123Bold Venture
1937123War Admiral
1942124Shut Out
1943124Count Fleet
1945127Hoop Jr.
1947126Jet Pilot
1951122Count Turf
1952121Hill Gail
1953122Dark Star
1957122Iron Liege
1958125Tim Tam
1959122Tomy Lee
1960122Venetian Way
1961124Carry Back
1964120Northern Dancer
1965121Lucky Debonair
1966122Kauai King
1967120Proud Clarion
1968122Forward Pass
1969121Majestic Prince
1970123Dust Commander
1971123Canonero I
1972121Riva Ridge
1975122Foolish Pleasure
1976122Bold Forbes
1977122Seattle Slew
1979122Spectacular Bid
1980122Genuine Risk
1981122Pleasant Colony
1982122Gato Del Sol
1983122Sunny’s Halo
1985120Spend a Buck
1988122Winning Colors
1989125Sunday Silence
1991123Strike the Gold
1992123Lil E. Tee
1993122Sea Hero
1994124Go for Gin
1995121Thunder Gulch
1997122Silver Charm
1998122Real Quiet
After this article was written
2000121Fusaichi Pegasus
2002121War Emblem
2003121Funny Cide
2004124Smarty Jones
2007122Street Sense
2008122Big Brown
2009123Mine That Bird
2010125Super Saver
2011122Animal Kingdom
2012122I'll Have Another
2014123California Chrome
2015122American Pharoah
2017124Always Dreaming
2019124Country House
2021121Medina Spirit
2022123Rich Strike

The Kentucky Derby Limit (1)

The Kentucky Derby data does not show increasing speed without limit. The last six decades show remarkable consistency, which seems to indicate that the limit may already have been reached.

When researching the Kentucky Derby data, we stumbled across this interesting passage in the Thoroughbred Times On-Line Stallion Directory.

Simply put, the fact that each cast of the genetic dice is governed by the laws of probability means that the offspring is likely to be closer to the genetic mean than either parent. Thus, even if you mate two Triple Crown winners, you are much more likely to get a modest runner than a Triple Crown winner.1

We can’t help but point out that the only three fillies (young female horses) to have won the Derby were Regret, 1915; Genuine Risk, 1980; and Winning Colors, 1988. None of them went on to win the Triple Crown. Therefore, since all the Triple Crown winners were stallions, if you mate two Triple Crown winners you won’t even get a modest runner. The Kentucky Derby Limit (2) But the point is still valid--offspring do tend toward the genetic mean.

(Video) Kentucky Derby 2019 (FULL RACE) ends in historic controversial finish | NBC Sports

Evolution and Limits

Our Canadian critic, John, has said that our characterization of the theory of evolution is false. When we asked him to propose a more accurate explanation of evolution, he gave us this one:
(1) a) There is diversity within species (interbreeding populations). b) This is continually fueled by mutation, crossover, drift, gene duplication, horizontal transfer, etc.(2) More individuals are born than are able to reproduce.(3) a) Reproductive success is not random, but depends on individual traits. b) These traits are (at least partially) inherited.(4) a) This, along with environmental changes, reproductive isolation, founder effect, etc., is the basic mechanism by which the gene pool of a population changes over time. b) There is no known limit to this process.(5) a) All current species do in fact share a single common ancestor. b) This is shown by the genetic relatedness of all living species, as well as their geographical distribution and the fossil evidence of now-extinct ancestors.

We agree completely with statements 1a through 4a. We don’t know of any creationists who don’t agree with those statements. The only disagreement is with statements 4b through 5b. Specifically, we believe there are limits. The Kentucky Derby data suggests that there is a limit to how fast horses can run. Statement 4b is false.

Statement 5a depends upon statement 4b to be true. The only way all current species can share a single common ancestor is if there are no limits to how much genes can change. If there is a limit to how much a species can evolve, then all current species cannot share a common ancestor.

Statement 5b is merely a silly gloss intended to support statement 5a. Similarity of species does not necessarily show common ancestry. The similarities could just as well reflect the preferences of a creator.

Geographical distribution of species merely shows that children tend to be born near their mothers. The Kentucky Derby Limit (3) This isn’t a particularly profound statement, and in no way proves evolution. In fact, it would be better proof of evolution if species appeared in places where their parents had never been because that would be evidence that they evolved from something else. For example, if kangaroos suddenly appeared in Nebraska, without any kangaroos being introduced to the state, it would mean that they must have evolved from prairie dogs.

(Video) Reexamining the controversial 2019 Kentucky Derby | NBC Sports

We are starting to grow weary of pointing out that the fossil evidence shows abrupt appearance of species, with very little change after their appearance. Unfortunately, statement 5b requires us to say it again.

Statement 5 is the issue. Students are being taught that all current species have a common ancestor. They are told this is possible because there is no limit to how much a population can evolve. That’s why this essay is emphasizing that there are limits to biological change. The Kentucky Derby is just one example.

The Milk Limit

Farmers have been trying to breed cows that give more milk. (It’s that money thing again.) Is there a limit to how much milk a cow can give? We believe there is. Do we know what it is? No, we don’t, but we are sure it is less than 1,000 gallons a minute. We are willing to bet it is a whole lot lower than that.

Seriously, milk contains about 150 calories per cup. That’s 2,400 calories per gallon. Suppose a cow eats 15,000 calories a day. (We are just guessing. Weight Watchers doesn’t publish any recommended diets for cows.) If she is 100% efficient, a cow can produce 6.25 gallons of milk (which contain a total of 15,000 calories) a day on a 15,000 calorie diet. Of course a cow has to expend some calories to grow muscles, and bone, and keep warm, etc., so she can’t turn 100% of her input energy into milk. No doubt someone at an agricultural college has done a Ph.D. thesis relating diet to milk production and can tell us how efficient modern dairy cows are. We just could not find that thesis. 2 But we are confident that cows can’t violate the law of conservation of energy, and cannot produce energy out of nothing. Therefore, there must be a limit to how much milk a cow can produce. One could make a similar argument about the egg production of chickens.

Other Limits

Clearly there are limits to how much an existing characteristic can change. Horses already know how to run. Running is an existing characteristic. There is a limit to how much faster they can run. We believe this because there is evidence from the Kentucky Derby that they have reached the limit.

But for evolution to be true, there must not only be no limit to existing characteristics, there must also be no limit to the appearance of entirely new characteristics. According to statement 4b, there is no fundamental reason why horses can’t grow wings and learn to fly. That sounds silly (we hope), and will draw criticism because it is a “creationist caricature”, but it is true. Evolution depends upon the idea that a land mammal evolved into a porpoise, complete with sonar. Evolutionists must also believe that (over some controversial period of time) mice can sprout wings and evolve into bats, complete with sonar.

Is it so unreasonable to ask for the slightest bit of scientific proof that there are no limits to evolution? What is the proof that grain-eating mice can evolve into insect-eating bats that use sonar to fly through dark caves? As far as we can tell, the evolutionists’ reasoning is simply that bats exist. Since bats must have evolved from mice, there must be no limit to how much a species can evolve. Since there is no limit to evolution, mice could have evolved into bats. It is an obviously circular argument, which is why you don’t hear evolutionists present it that way.

(Video) MAXIMUM SECURITY: KENTUCKY DERBY TO SAUDI CUP | Luis Saez & the world's best racehorse

Yes, we’ve put words in evolutionists’ mouths. That’s because they won’t speak for themselves. What is the proof that there is no limit to how much a population can evolve? There isn’t any. One has to accept, by faith, the doctrine that there are no limits to how much a population can evolve in response to the pressure of selection. Once you accept that false doctrine, then one can accept the false doctrine that all species share a common (unknown) ancestor.

Professional breeders know there are limits because they’ve been pushing those limits as far as they can. If someone could breed a horse that runs the Kentucky Derby in one minute, they would do it. If they could cross a horse with an eagle to produce a flying horse (like Pegasus), they would do it. (Imagine the money maker that would be!) The scientific evidence is that there are limits to the genetic variability of species, which prevent the evolution of entirely new species. Science is against evolution.

For an update on this article, please see "California Chrome Proves Us Right".

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2Some time after we wrote this article, we happened to find Tidbits of the Eastern Sierra Nevada", 5 February, 1999.(Their registered service mark is, "All the News You Never Knew that You Never Needed to Know.")This particular issue said, "The average dairy cow produces about 1,600 gallons of milk annually."That works out to almost 4.4 gallons per day, which is 70% efficiency, if our estimate of caloric intake is correct.


Was the 2022 Kentucky Derby winner disqualified? ›

Rich Strike becomes the first Kentucky Derby winner to not compete in the Preakness since 2019, when Country House did not enter after being awarded the Derby win following the disqualification of Maximum Security.

What was the biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history? ›

  • Donerail (1913) Odds: 91-1. The 39th winner of the Kentucky Derby earned his roses. ...
  • Rich Strike (2022) Odds: 80-1. ...
  • Country House (2019) Odds: 65-1. ...
  • Mine That Bird (2009) Odds: 50-1. ...
  • Giacomo (2005) Odds: 50-1. ...
  • Charismatic (1999) Odds: 31-1. ...
  • Thunder Gulch (1995) Odds: 25-1. ...
  • Animal Kingdom (2011) Odds: 21-1.
7 May 2022

Has a black person ever won the Kentucky Derby? ›

The 148th Kentucky Derby takes off on Saturday, May 7th. Black jockeys once dominated the sport—15 of the first 28 Derbys were won by Black jockeys. However since 1921, there have only been four Black men who have competed in the Derby.

What happens to Derby bets if winner is disqualified? ›

No, nothing would change for bettors. People who bet on Medina Spirit to win the Kentucky Derby will get to keep their winnings, even if the horse ends up being disqualified.

How much did they pay for Rich Strike? ›

Key Background. Dawson bought Rich Strike last year for $30,000, far less than the hundreds of thousands of dollars most other Derby competitors fetched. Rich Strike didn't qualify for the Derby until Friday, a day before the race.

Why did Rich Strike bite the pony? ›

He thought he was supposed to outrun that horse, and he bit the guy's leg terribly — bit his arm a couple, really bad bites," Reed continued. "The horse is not a mean horse. He just was in race mode and he didn't understand why they were grabbing him to slow him down.

What's the biggest odds a horse has won at? ›

Sawbuck became the longest-priced winner in the history of jump racing with victory at odds of 300-1.

How much does a jockey make per race? ›

Jockeys are some of the original “gig workers” because they work as independent contractors. Rather than earn a salary, a jockey receives a “mounting fee” — often $50-$110 — for each race, riding sometimes eight races per day.

How fast did secretariat run in mph? ›

Secretariat holds the fastest finishing time at 2:24.00. In 1973, the Triple Crown-winning horse set a world record that still stands for a race on a mile-and-a-half dirt track. The horse reached a top speed of 49 mph.

Has a female jockey ever won the Kentucky Derby? ›

Crump doubled up as the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby. A few months later in 1969, Barbara Jo Rubin rode into the record books as the first female jockey to ride a winner. But it was Julie Krone who performed the grunt work in dispelling from the sport most of the old prejudices.

Why did black jockeys disappear? ›

The key push to exclude Black jockeys came when White jockeys began violently attacking their African American counterparts by boxing them out during races, running them into the rail, and hitting them with riding crops.

Why are hats worn at the Kentucky Derby? ›

Wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby is believed to bear good luck! The long-established fashion was started by the women, however, over the last few years, many men have taken part in the tradition as well.

What happens to payouts if Medina Spirit is disqualified? ›

With the disqualification, Mandaloun becomes the winner. However, there will be no refunds or payouts for anyone who bet on the horse. As for bettors, a class-action suit was filed and is working its way forward in the courts. In addition, trainer Bob Baffert was suspended 90 days and fined $7,500.

Do you get your money back if a horse is disqualified? ›

When there is a steward's inquiry most bookmakers will not pay out but some offer first past the post betting. Customers who have backed the disqualified horse are entitled to the winnings and those who had money on the horse who is awarded the race in the steward's room are also paid out.

Is Medina Spirit disqualified? ›

The 2021 winner of the Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit, has been disqualified from his win last May and his trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced Monday. Medina Spirit, who died in December, failed a drug test after finishing the Kentucky Derby last year.

How much are stud fees for a Kentucky Derby winner? ›

Spendthrift Farm's reigning champion general sire Into Mischief , the sire of Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Authentic , will have his stud fee increased to $225,000 for the 2021 breeding season. The figure is up from a published fee of $175,000 this year.

What did a $2 bet pay on Rich Strike? ›

But winning at 80/1 odds, Rich Strike paid $163.60 on a $2 win bet and triggered some huge payouts in the exotic pools. Rich Strike's win payout was the second-highest all-time in the Kentucky Derby behind Donerail ($184.90) in 1913.

How much does it cost to enter a horse in the Kentucky Derby? ›

Horses should be nominated to be eligible in the Kentucky Derby. If you want to enter a horse in the Derby, you should pay $25,000 as an entry fee and an additional $25,000 as the starting fee.

Is Rich Strike a male or female horse? ›

Background. Rich Strike is a chestnut colt with a white blaze and two white socks on his hind legs. He was bred at Calumet Farm in Kentucky and was foaled on April 25, 2019.

Why is rich strikes tongue hanging out? ›

Racehorses' tongues are tied for two reasons, 1) to prevent the horse's tongue from getting over the bit, and 2) to avoid breathing interference caused by the displacement of the soft palate. Various materials are used to tie a horse's tongue, from a strip of cloth to an elastic band.

What do you call the horse that walks with racehorse? ›

Track or lead ponies are horses that offer support and comfort for racehorses as they travel to and from the racetrack. Often older than their charges, a track pony or lead pony offers guidance and support, allowing the racehorse to focus on their job rather than the sights and sounds of the racetrack.

Was Medina Spirit stripped of Kentucky Derby win? ›

Medina Spirit is no longer the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The colt, who died unexpectedly in December, was officially disqualified by Kentucky racing officials on Monday for failing a drug test after winning the race.

What happened to the Kentucky Derby winner? ›

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit collapsed and died after a workout in California. The commission said in its ruling that lab testing at the University of California, Davis, confirmed that Medina Spirit had betamethasone in his blood. Baffert's suspension will last 90 days and he has been fined $7,500.

Who wins if Medina Spirit is disqualified? ›

With the disqualification, Mandaloun becomes the winner. However, there will be no refunds or payouts for anyone who bet on the horse. As for bettors, a class-action suit was filed and is working its way forward in the courts. In addition, trainer Bob Baffert was suspended 90 days and fined $7,500.

Who got disqualified in the Kentucky Derby? ›

After more than nine months of delay, litigation and laboratory tests, the 2021 Kentucky Derby finally reached at least a temporary resolution Monday when stewards disqualified Medina Spirit and suspended the deceased colt's Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, for 90 days.

What caused Medina spirits death? ›

A Heart Attack, Not Drugs, Killed Medina Spirit, a Necropsy Finds - The New York Times.

How much does a jockey make per race? ›

Jockeys are some of the original “gig workers” because they work as independent contractors. Rather than earn a salary, a jockey receives a “mounting fee” — often $50-$110 — for each race, riding sometimes eight races per day.

How much does it cost to enter a horse in the Kentucky Derby? ›

Horses should be nominated to be eligible in the Kentucky Derby. If you want to enter a horse in the Derby, you should pay $25,000 as an entry fee and an additional $25,000 as the starting fee.

How much does a jockey make for winning the Kentucky Derby? ›

2022 Kentucky Derby Prize Money

Here's what you need to know about the @KentuckyDerby post positions. Meanwhile, the winning jockey who successfully crosses the finish line first will receive 10% of the winner's purse — which equates to a $186,000 payday before taxes and other payments.

Will Medina Spirit be taken down? ›

On Monday, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stripped Medina Spirit of his Derby title in wake of the colt testing positive for the banned race-day substance betamethasone. The commission gave Baffert, who is already serving a two-year suspension from Churchill Downs, a 90-day suspension.

What happens to the best of Medina Spirit is disqualified? ›


No, nothing would change for bettors. People who bet on Medina Spirit to win the Kentucky Derby will get to keep their winnings, even if the horse ends up being disqualified.

What happens with bets if Medina Spirit is disqualified? ›

Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby win is officially vacated after a positive test for betamethasone, but what about the bets cashed in on the victory? The short answer is — nothing. Even though Medina Spirit was disqualified, the stewards who threw him out said: "Pari-mutuel wagering is not affected by this ruling."


1. Kentucky Derby 2019: Explaining Maximum Security's historic disqualification | NBC Sports
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2. Kentucky Derby Festival limits fireworks locations for Thunder Over Louisville
3. Kentucky Derby (2009): Mine That Bird shocks the world at 50-1 odds | NBC Sports
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4. Kentucky Derby champion jockey reacts to controversial win
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5. Kentucky Derby 2020 ends with massive upset (FULL RACE) | NBC Sports
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6. Best Kentucky Derby moments from the 2000's | NBC Sports
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