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Top 5 Most Popular Kentucky Derby Winners In History


We are only a few weeks away from the much-awaited horse racing event this year, the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby. Thus, everyone is talking about Kentucky Derby, from the event’s history to the current news and updates of the contenders.

Knowing the event’s history will help you make the right decision when betting on the Kentucky Derby this year. The past will give you information or patterns that will help you pick the ideal contender to bet on.

That said, one of the things that you should look up are the winners in the past to learn their stories and performances on the Churchill Downs racetrack. That’s why we have compiled history’s top five most popular Kentucky Derby winners.

The first on the list is Secretariat. Every bettor knows Secretariat because of how he won the Triple Crown. He was the first to acquire the title in 25 years. Only twelve horses accomplished the Triple Crown title, and he is one of them.

Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973. He showed the world how great he was with his stretch-running ability, which gave him an edge over his opponents. Secretariat’s racing career only lasted 16 months. But within these months, he proved that he is among the greatest of all time and will be a legend in the horse racing industry.

Throughout his short but well-played racing career, he raced 21 times and won 16. That’s an amazing record for a racehorse. He was a favorite 17 times when he was active. That’s not where his achievements end. When Secretariat became a stud, he also won the Horse of the Year Award back-to-back.

Smarty Jones
Next on the list is Smarty Jones, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2004. Smarty Jones was the first contender who won the Kentucky Derby under a first-time derby jockey and first-timer derby trainer since 1979 when Spectacular Bid also won under the same circumstances.

The thoroughbred gave his team a memorable first-time participation in the Kentucky Derby and wrote them in the race’s history. Despite being 700 miles away from Louisville, KY, where the Kentucky Derby racetrack, Churchill Downs, is located, Smarty Jones ensured that the long distances travel wouldn’t affect his performance.

Smarty Jones gave his all at the Kentucky Derby. He ran through the mud of the Churchill Downs and pulled even with the second pick Lion Heart.

The two racehorses engage in a stretch duel. But in the end, the race announcer Tom Durkin introduced Smarty Jones as the 2004 Kentucky Derby winner. He was also known as the first undefeated Kentucky Derby winner since Seattle Slew in 1977.

Affirmed was the 11th winner of the Triple Crown. He bagged the title in 1978 and became a famous Triple Crown winner. He became popular not only in the Kentucky Derby history but in the history of the Triple Crown.

The reason behind his popularity is his neck-to-neck rivalry with Alydar, whom he raced ten times throughout his racing career. Another reason Affirmed is a popular name in horse racing history is that it took 37 years before another thoroughbred won the Triple Crown title.

It was a long wait, and everyone couldn’t forget about the last racehorse who took home the title. Affirmed entered the Kentucky Derby race in 1978 as a non-favorite.

His rival, Alydar, got the favorite title of the race. However, he proved that not all favorites would win the Kentucky Derby when he took the lead at the second turn of the racetrack and left the favorite behind.

That’s why when you check the FanDuel’s kentucky derby picks to look for a horse to bet on, it’s recommended to choose not only the favorite but also consider the longshot contenders. It will help you increase your chance of winning and profiting from your bet.

American Pharoah
American Pharoah hasn’t only won the Kentucky Derby, but he also took home the Triple Crown title in 2015. His trainer Bob Baffert is one of the most legendary trainers in horse racing history. Baffert has trained seven horses that won the Kentucky Derby, including American Pharoah.

Unfortunately, Baffert’s last win was disqualified due to a positive drug test. American Pharoah solidified his name in the horse racing industry when he also won the Breeders’ Cup in the same year he won the Triple Crown title.

This racehorse is unstoppable, as he won 9 out of 11 races he participated in throughout his racing career. American Pharoah is not only a legendary winner in the Kentucky Derby, but he’s one of Bob Baffert’s best trainees.

Another undefeated Kentucky Derby winner is Nyquist. He never lost a race before the Kentucky Derby in 2016. Nyquist was trained by Doug F. O’Neill and sired by Uncle Mo, who also has another offspring running in the 2023 Kentucky Derby.

Nyquist showed a great start during the 2016 Kentucky Derby. As soon as he slipped out the gate, he ran steadily around the first turn. He never backed down and got passed through his opponents until he reached the finish line first.

This thoroughbred has an incredible racing history before the Kentucky Derby. However, after his derby win, he never got another shot at first place in his last three races before he retired.

Final Thoughts
When betting on the 2023 Kentucky Derby, you can use the information provided by each Kentucky Derby winner mentioned above. You can compare their performances, history, bloodline, and human connections with the current contenders and see who has the highest chance of winning the race, just like these thoroughbreds.