Computers chips, internet connections, people—they just keep getting faster. But not horses. Winning times at the Kentucky Derby, the premiere American horse race, haven’t fallen since the 1950s.
Finishing times fell steadily in the first half of the last century, but equestrian speeds have since has leveled off. Winners of the past 10 runnings of the Kentucky Derby finished the 10-furlong (1.25 mile) race in an average of 122.43 seconds, which is actually slower than the average winning time in 1960s (121.64 seconds).
This year’s field doesn’t look like it will buck the trend. Of the four current odds-on favorites—Verrazano, Orb, Goldencent, and Revolutionary—only Verrazano has recently run a race at a sub-120 pace.