The Kentucky Derby has been a summertime staple since the first race in 1875. Over the decades, the Derby has become an international event, where themed drinks, the finest summer attire, and ridiculous hats have become just as iconic as the race itself.
(Speaking of those hats: the accessory was longtime thought to bring good luck to the wearer's horse of choice. The requirements for such a topper? The official Kentucky Derby website shares a long list of guidelines for participating in the scene: wide-brimmed hats are expected, humor is encouraged, and all shapes are welcomed. You can check out the Kentucky Derby website for more specifics on the hats you'll see lining the racetrack.)
Related: Seven Secrets of Churchill Downs
In honor of the Kentucky Derby's long history, it seemed fitting to take a trip down memory lane. This collection of images provides a quick visual timeline of the annual race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Spanning from 1933 to 1973 (the infamous year of Secretariat), the photographs capture each aspect of the event: the horses, jockeys, the fashion, spectators, owners, and the coveted winner's circle. The Kentucky Derby may be a very short race—it's popularly known as the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports"—but millions of people (more than 16 million the past couple of years, to be precise) tune into see the results.
If you're staying home this Kentucky Derby, you can certainly still partake in the fun. Grab a Mint Julep—the unofficial drink of the race—and peruse our collection of photos from Derbies past.