Derby (horse race)

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The start of the 2009 Hong Kong Derby.

A derby (UK: /ˈdɑːrbi/ DAR-bee, US: /ˈdɜːrbi/ DUR-bee) is a type of horse race named after the Derby Stakes run at Epsom Downs Racecourse in England.[1] That was in turn named after Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, who inaugurated the race in 1780.[2] Perhaps the best-known example after the original is the Kentucky Derby in the United States.[3][4]

Traditionally, the term "derby" is used strictly to refer to races restricted to three-year-olds,[citation needed] as the English and U.S. Triple Crown races all are. The most notable exceptions to this rule are the Hong Kong Derby and Singapore Derby, restricted to four-year-old Thoroughbreds, and the Canadian Pacing Derby, an annual harness race for "aged pacers" (Standardbreds) four years old and up.[citation needed]

In Scandinavian harness racing Derby is restricted to four-year-olds. Exception is the Finnhorse Derby, which is restricted to five-year-olds.

Name Place Distance Restrictions First
Day Notes
American Derby Arlington Park, Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA[t 1] 1+316 miles (1900 m)[t 2] 1884[5]
Australian Derby (also known as AJC Derby) Randwick Racecourse, Sydney 2400 metres
(1.5 miles)
3 yr olds 1861 Late March or early April
Bangalore Derby[6] 2,400 metres 4 yr olds & up
Epsom Derby (also known as The Derby, Derby Stakes and the English Derby) Epsom Downs Racecourse, England 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards
(2423 metres)
3 yr olds colts and fillies 1780 1st Saturday in June[t 3]
French Derby (more often known as Prix du Jockey Club) Chantilly Racecourse 2100 metres
(1.30 miles; 10.44 furlongs)
3 yr olds colts and fillies 1836 Early June
German Derby (Deutsches Derby) Horner Rennbahn, Hamburg 2,400 metres (1.5 miles) 3 yr olds colts and fillies 1869 Early July
Hong Kong Derby Sha Tin Racecourse 2,000 metres 4 yr olds 1873 mid March
Hungarian Derby (Magyar Derby) Kincsem Park, Budapest 2,400 metres 3 yr olds 1921 Early July
Italian Derby (Derby Italiano) Capannelle Racecourse 2200 1884
Indian Derby Mahalaxmi Racecourse, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India 2,400 metres 4 yr olds 1943 1st Sunday in Feb.
Irish Derby The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland 1+12 miles (2.4 km) 3 yr olds 1866 Last Sunday in June[t 4]
Kentucky Derby Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky, USA 1+14 miles (2 km) 3 yr olds 1875 1st Saturday in May
New Zealand Derby Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland 2400 metres
(1.5 miles; 12 furlongs)
3yr olds 1860 1st Saturday in March
Queensland Derby Eagle Farm Racecourse, Brisbane 2400 metres
(1.5 miles; 12 furlongs)
3yr olds 1868 June
Singapore Derby Kranji Racecourse 1,800 metres 4 yr olds 1880 Mid July
Swedish Trotting Derby (Svenskt Travderby) Jägersro Racetrack, Malmö 2640 metres (1.64 mi; 13.12 furlongs) 4yr olds 1928 1st Sunday in September
Tokyo Yushun
Japanese Derby
Tokyo Racecourse 2,400 metres 3 yr olds colts and fillies 1932 late May or Early June Currently the richest Derby.
Victoria Derby Flemington Racecourse 2,500 metres 3 yr olds 1855
WATC Derby Ascot Racecourse, Perth 2,400 metres 3yr olds 1888 New Years Day or nearby Saturday
  1. ^ Location has varied
  2. ^ Distance has varied
  3. ^ Before 1995, 1st Wednesday in June
  4. ^ Current race date. Dates have varied over time, but have always been in late June or early July.


  1. ^ Reeves 1997, p.134.
  2. ^ Vesey 2003, p. 135.
  3. ^ Freeman 1997, p. 68.
  4. ^ Schreifer & Sivell 1996, p. K-1.
  5. ^ Only run once between 1905 and 1925.
  6. ^ Sun Kingdom wins Bangalore Derby Retrieved 2011-2-6


  • Ashok, Kalyan (11 July 2010), "Derby getting bigger and better", The Hindu
  • Freeman, Morton S. (1997), A new dictionary of eponyms (Illustrated ed.), Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-509354-2
  • Reeves, Richard Stone (1997), Crown jewels of thoroughbred racing: original paintings (Illustrated ed.), Eclipse Press, ISBN 0-939049-90-2
  • Schreifer, Kirk; Sivell, John (1996), America From Apple Pie To Ziegfeld Follies Book One: People, vol. 1 (Illustrated ed.), Full Blast Productions, ISBN 1-895451-17-5
  • Vesey, Barbara (2003), The Hidden Places of East Anglia: Including Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire (7 ed.), Travel Publishing, ISBN 1-902007-91-3