The Commonwealth of Kentucky i// is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth (the others being Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts). Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 it became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th largest state in terms of total area, the 36th largest in land area, and ranks 26th in population.
Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the fact that native bluegrass is present in many of the pastures throughout the state, based on the fertile soil. It made possible the breeding of high-quality livestock, especially thoroughbred racing horses. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world's longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park; the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the Lower 48 states; and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. It is also home to the highest per capita number of deer and turkey in the United States, the largest free-ranging elk herd east of Montana, and the nation's most productive coalfield. Kentucky is also known for thoroughbred horses, horse racing, bourbon distilleries, bluegrass music, automobile manufacturing, tobacco and college basketball.
The Kentucky Derby
is a Grade I stakes race
for three-year-old thoroughbred horses
, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky
, on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival
. The race is one and a quarter miles (2 km) at Churchill Downs
carry 126 pounds (57.2 kg) and fillies
121 pounds (54.9 kg). The race is known in the United States
as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" for its approximate duration, and is also called "The Run for the Roses" for the blanket of roses draped over the winner. It is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing
in the US and typically draws around 155,000 fans. It is the oldest organized sporting event
of any kind in the South, and the second oldest in the entire nation (only the Travers Stakes
The fastest time ever run in the Derby (at its present distance) was set in 1973 at 1 minute 59 2/5 seconds when Secretariat broke the record set by Northern Dancer in 1964. Not only has Secretariat's record time stood for 34 years and counting, but in the race itself, he did something unique in Triple Crown races: each successive quarter, his times were faster.
The Derby is frequently referred to as "The Run for the Roses," because a lush blanket of 554 red roses is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner each year. The tradition is as a result of New York socialite E. Berry Wall presenting roses to ladies at a post-Derby party in 1883 that was attended by Churchill Downs president, Col. M. Lewis Clark. This gesture is believed to have eventually led Clark to the idea of making the rose the race's official flower. However, it was not until 1896 that any recorded account referred to roses being draped on the Derby winner. The Governor of Kentucky awards the garland and the trophy. Pop vocalist Dan Fogelberg composed a song by that title for the 1980 running of the race.
, known as the "Horse Capital of the World," is located in the heart of the Bluegrass region
. It is the second-largest city in Kentucky
, after Louisville
. On January 1, 1974 Lexington became the first municipality in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to form a consolidated city-county
government by merging with Fayette County
. In 2006, the population estimate given by the U.S. Census Bureau
Lexington is home to the Kentucky Horse Park, Keeneland race course, the Red Mile race course, Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky. Lexington has been selected to be the site of the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games.
By 1820, it was one of the largest and wealthiest towns west of the Allegheny Mountains. So cultured was its lifestyle, Lexington gained the nickname "Athens of the West." One early prominent citizen, John Wesley Hunt, became the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies. Slaves were widely held and used as laborers, field hands and domestic servants in Kentucky. In 1850, 1/5 of the state's population were slaves, and Lexington had the highest concentration of slaves in the state.
Kentucky Official Symbols
On this day in Kentucky history...
John Hunt Morgan
(June 1, 1825 – September 4, 1864) was a Confederate
general and cavalry
officer in the American Civil War
. He led 2,460 troops in a daring raid, called Morgan's Raid
, racing past Union lines into Kentucky
, and Ohio
in July 1863. This was the farthest north any uniformed Confederate troops penetrated during the war.
Morgan and his cavalrymen fought at the Battle of Shiloh and he soon became a symbol to secessionists in their hopes for obtaining Kentucky for the Confederacy. A Louisiana writer, Robert D. Patrick, compared Morgan to Francis Marion and wrote that "a few thousands of such men as his would regain us Kentucky and Tennessee."
He unnerved Kentucky's Union military government and President Lincoln received so many frantic appeals for help that he complained that "they are having a stampede in Kentucky."
“I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.” -- Abraham Lincoln
“I was brought up to believe that Scotch whisky would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky bourbon.” -- Hugo Black
“Tough girls come from New York. Sweet girls, they're from Georgia. But us Kentucky girls, we have fire and ice in our blood. We can ride horses, be a debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making sweet tea, darlin'. And if we have an opinion, you know you're gonna hear it.” -- Ashley Judd
Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune. Daniel Boone
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