The 10 Fastest Runnings of the Kentucky Derby

What Was the Fastest Horse to Ever Win the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is inarguably the most famous and important race in North America for 3-year-old thoroughbreds. It's a hands-down favorite among racing fans and some of the races have been much more memorable than others. Here are the 10 fastest winning times in the long history of the "Run for the Roses" since the inaugural race was won by Aristides in 1875.  

01
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1973: Secretariat

Seretariat
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Secretariat holds the record for the fastest Kentucky Derby win ever at 1:59 2/5, which is also the track record for the 1 1/4 mile distance at Churchill Downs. He went on to win the Triple Crown and was named Horse of the Year as well as champion 3-year-old for 1973. He is still considered by many to be the best thoroughbred ever to race. 

Sham — Secretariat's fierce rival — ran second to him in the Derby in 1:59.90. His time was faster than that of many winners over the years, and it was a race for the ages. Unfortunately, his time doesn't count because he didn't win. 

02
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2001: Monarchos

2001 Monarchos
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Monarchos surprised everyone when he won the Kentucky Derby in 1:59.97 in 2001, becoming the second-fastest Derby winner in history. He rallied from 13th place early in the race to ultimately win by 4 3/4 lengths. He was unplaced in the Preakness and ran third in the Belmont Stakes. He died in October 2016 after emergency intestinal surgery.

03
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1964: Northern Dancer

Northern Dancer
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Northern Dancer has the third fastest Kentucky Derby win of all time at 2:00 flat. The Canadian-bred horse had an awesome 3-year-old season with wins in the Flamingo Stakes, Florida Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, Preakness and the Queen's Plate. He finished 3rd in the Belmont and was retired soon after, dying in 1990 at the age of 29. 

04
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1985: Spend a Buck

Spend a Buck
Mary Delaney Cooke/Corbis via Getty Images

Spend a Buck won his Kentucky Derby in wire-to-wire fashion, coming home 5 1/4 lengths in front of the second place horse in a final time of 2:00 1/5. It was the fourth fastest Derby win ever. He went on to become 1985's Horse of the Year and Champion 3-year-old Colt.

Then his owner and trainer made the controversial decision to skip the rest of the Triple Crown, running Spend a Buck in the Jersey Derby instead. The horse was eligible for a $2 million bonus if he won the Jersey Derby. He did win, so his owners made the right choice, at least financially. 

Decidedly 1962
Decidedly 1962. Mary Delaney Cooke/Corbis via Getty Images

Decidedly won the Kentucky Derby in 2:00.40 in 1962, the fifth fastest winner in the history of the race. The gray colt was sired by Determine, who also won the Derby in 1954. Decidedly raced through age 5 and retired with a record of 11 wins, 9 seconds, and 4 thirds in 43 starts, with earnings of $318,989. More »

06
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1967: Proud Clarion

Proud Clarion was a huge upset when he won the 1967 Kentucky Derby at 30-1 odds. His final time was 2:00.60, the sixth fastest ever. A $2 winning bet placed on him paid $62.20 in 1967 dollars. He went on to finish third in the Preakness, but he didn't finish in the money in the Belmont Stakes. He was vanquished by his foe Damascus, who had ironically been the Derby favorite only to lose in that race to Proud Clarion.

07
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1996: Grindstone

Grindstone 1996
Simon Bruty / Allsport / Getty Images

Grindstone rallied from 15th place to win by a nose in 1996. His final time was 2:01.06 for the seventh fastest Derby win ever. One of four Kentucky Derby winners trained by the legendary D. Wayne Lukas, he was retired soon after the race due to injury. As of 2017, he's living a life of luxury at Overbrook Farm in Kentucky, where he was also bred.

08
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2000: Fusaichi Pegasus

horse racing
Fusaichi Pegasus at the 2000 Kentucky Derby. Cindy Pierson Dulay

Fusaichi Pegasus rallied from 15th place to win the 2000 Kentucky Derby by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 2:01.12 for the eighth fastest Derby win of all time. He was also the first favorite to win in 20 years and the only Derby winner to be purchased at auction for over $1 million. He was second in the Preakness and skipped the Belmont Stakes. He tried to come back in the Breeders' Cup Classic that fall and was unplaced then retired. He stands at stud at Ashford Stud in Kentucky. 

Fusaichi Pegasus is the great-grandson of Northern Dancer, who set the third fastest time back in 1964. 

09
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Funny Cide 2003

horse racing funny cide
Funny Cide in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Funny Cide owns the tenth fastest Derby win on record at 2:01.19. He became the first New York-bred horse to win the Derby and was the first gelding to win since 1929. He went on to win the Preakness and was third in a very muddy Belmont Stakes. He enjoyed being at the track and raced until age 7 when he was retired to become a stable pony for his trainer, Barclay Tagg.

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports

Now you know why they call the Kentucky Derby the most exciting two minutes in sports. Only the very best thoroughbreds can cover the 1 1/4 mile distance in anything close to two minutes.