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The most exciting two minutes in sports isn’t getting any shorter

  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

KentuckyPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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).

Only two Derby winners have ever completed the race in under 120 seconds: Secretariat in 1973, when he went on to win the remaining two legs of the Triple Crown, and Monarchos in 2001.

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.

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