10 Fastest Prize-Winning Horses In Kentucky Derby History

Often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” the Kentucky Derby is one of the most anticipated racing events in the world. Held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, hundreds of thousands of people flock to see the world’s best horses race on the famous Churchill Downs Track.

Only a select number of horses can enter the race, and those who enter are considered the cream of the crop in the racing world. Since its inception in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has boasted numerous world records and titleholders; among those are some of the fastest horses.

This is a list of the top 10 fastest horses that have won the Kentucky Derby. These horses have not only established their dominance on the track, but they have also captured the hearts of many around the world.

#10 Fusaichi Pegasus

Record Time: 2:01.12
 Year Foaled: 1997
Year Won: 2000
 Owner/Trainer: Fusao Sekiguchi; Neil Drysdale
 Country: United States

Fusaichi Pegasusphoto source: Action Network

Fusaichi Pegasus won the Kentucky Derby in 2000 with a 2:01:12 time. Foaled in 1997, he was bought for $4 million by Japanese businessman and thoroughbred enthusiast Fusao Sekiguchi who was determined to win the Kentucky Derby.

He was trained by Neil Drysdale and was ridden to victory by Kent Desormeaux.

After winning the 2000 Kentucky Derby with relative ease, most people expected him to get the American Triple Crown which he ultimately failed to do. Despite this, he got a few more wins, including the San Felipe Stakes and Wood Memorial Stakes.

He retired from racing in the same year and was sold to Coolmore Stud for a whopping $70 million. Throughout his short-lived racing career, he is reported to have earned around $1,994,400.

Did You Know:

His name combines his owner’s name, the Japanese word for number one, and the flying horse from Greek mythology.


#9 Mandaloun

Record Time: 2:01.10
 Year Foaled: 2018
Year Won: 2021
 Owner/Trainer: Juddmonte Farms; Brad H. Cox
 Country: United States

Mandalounphoto source: Blood Horse

The most recent titleholder to make the list, Mandaloun, was foaled in Kentucky by Juddmonte Farms and trained under Brad H. Cox. He won the 2021 Kentucky Derby ridden by Florent Geroux with a 2:01:10 time.

His win was shrouded in controversy. When he entered the 2021 Kentucky Derby, he had lost several races previously and was not considered a frontrunner. He originally came second to Medina Spirit, who finished with 2:01:02. Medina Spirit was later disqualified after a drug investigation and died in December of that year.

He was then dubbed a rising star and has since retired. He earned $2,096,052 in his career and boasted a 12: 6-1-1 record.

Did You Know:

He was named after the mandaloun, a type of window common in Middle Eastern architecture.


#8 Grindstone

Record Time: 2:01.06
 Year Foaled: 1993
Year Won: 1996
 Owner/Trainer: Oakhurst Farm; D. Wayne Lukas
 Country: United States

Grindstonephoto source: Oakhurst Equine

Bred at Overbrook Farm, Grindstone won the 1996 Kentucky Derby ridden by Jerry Bailey. He won that year with a 2:01.06 time. However, due to an injury, he immediately retired.

His Kentucky Derby win was ultimately his last. Later, he was moved to Oakhurst Farm, where his progeny included Ekolu Place, Birdstone, and Mine That Bird, all of which have made strides in horse racing.

At age 29, Grindstone was the oldest living Kentucky Derby Winner until he died of old age in March of 2022.

Did You Know:

He was the first Kentucky Derby winner to stand in the Northwest.


#7 Authentic

Record Time: 2:00.61
 Year Foaled: 2017
Year Won: 2020 
 Owner/Trainer: Spendthrift Farm, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, MyRaceHorse Stable, Rick Marianacci; Bob Baffert
 Country: United States

Authenticphoto source: Kentucky Derby

Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds bred Authentic in Kentucky, and he currently possesses a record of 8: 6-2-0 and a career earnings total of $7,201,200. With a time of 2:00.61, he triumphed in the 2020 Kentucky Derby during the COVID epidemic.

His other victories include the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, the San Felipe Stakes, and the Sham Stakes. In the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, he broke his record with a speed of 1:59.60.

Authentic retired shortly after and started his stud career at Spendthrift Farm, where he currently has a stud fee of $75,000.

Did You Know:

He was awarded the American Horse of the Year award in 2020.


#6 Proud Clarion

Record Time: 2:00.6
 Year Foaled: 1964
Year Won: 1967
 Owner/Trainer: Darby Dan Farm; Loyd Gentry, Jr.
 Country: United States

Proud Clarionphoto source: America’s Best Racing

Proud Clarion started racing at two years old under trainer Loyd Gentry, Jr. In his first year, he had already begun showing promise.

When Proud Clarion entered the Kentucky Derby, he was an underdog. However, he soon proved everyone wrong when he came first with a 2:00.6 time ridden by jockey Bobby Ussery.

He would later have other wins, including the Roamer Handicap, also in 1967. Overall, he has a record of 25: 6-4-2. He started his stud career in 1969, where his progeny included Proud Birdie and Proud Lou. He died in 1981.

Did You Know:

Before winning the Kentucky Derby in 1969, he was almost sold by Darby Dan Farm due to losing a race in his first year.


#5 Decidedly

Record Time: 2:00.4
 Year Foaled: 1959
Year Won: 1962
 Owner/Trainer: George A. Pope, Jr.; Horatio Luro
 Country: United States

Decidedlyphoto source: Los Angeles Daily News

Decidedly was sired by another Kentucky Derby winner, Determine, who won in 1954. He was foaled in 1959 by George A. Pope, Jr.  And trained by Horatio Luro.

Ridden by Bill Hartack, Decidedly won the 1962 Kentucky Derby with a 2:00.4. He would later win the Dominion Day Handicap, Monmouth Handicap, and Ben Ali Handicap in 1963. His record stands at 43: 11-9-4.

His notable progeny include Tinajero, who won the Roamer Handicap and the Trenton Handicap. He died in 1984.

Did You Know:

He is one of five former Kentucky Derby winners that jockey Bill Hartack, who holds the record for most victories, rode to victory.


#4 Spend A Buck

Record Time: 2:00.2
 Year Foaled: 1982
Year Won: 1985
 Owner/Trainer: Dennis Diaz; Cam Gambolati
 Country: United States

Spend A Buckphoto source: Thoroughbred Daily News

Spend A Buck was already considered a frontrunner when he won the Kentucky Derby in 1985. He won that year’s derby with only a 2:00.2 time.

He caused much uproar when his owner opted to skip the Triple Crown trail for a $2 million bonus. Nevertheless, he won other titles, including the Miller High Life Cradle Stakes in, the Monmouth Handicap, Jersey Derby, Cherry Mile Hill Handicap, and the Garden State Stakes.

His career brought him a 15: 10–3–2 record, and he was also named American Horse of the year in 1985.

He enjoyed a fruitful career as a stallion and can claim to have sired 452 winners in his lifetime. He lived the latter part of his life in Brazil.

Did You Know:

He died in 2002 due to a severe allergic reaction to penicillin.


#3 Northern Dancer

Record Time: 2:00.0
 Year Foaled: 1961
Year Won: 1964
 Owner/Trainer: Windfields Farm; Horatio Luro
 Country: Canada

Northern Dancerphoto source: America’s Best Racing

Northern Dancer, who was foaled in 1961, produced one of the most powerful bloodlines in Thoroughbred breeding. He won the Kentucky Derby ridden by Bill Hartack in 1964 when he was just two years old, the youngest ever to do so.

He won it within precisely two minutes. He is also the first Canadian horse ever to win the Kentucky Derby. His storied career left him with an 18: 14–2–2 record.

Aside from his numerous wins, he has also received many honors, including the 1964 Canadian Horse of the Year, and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1965.

His career as a stud outweighed his racing career, as he sired more than 400 winners. Northern Dancer is a progenitor of modern Thoroughbred horses.

Did You Know:

Northern Dancer has been dubbed “The Kingmaker” due to his numerous progeny who had successful careers.


#2 Monarchos

Record Time: 1:59.97
 Year Foaled: 1998
Year Won: 2001
 Owner/Trainer: John C. Oxley; John T. Ward Jr.
 Country: United States

Monarchosphoto source: Blood Horse

One of two horses to win the Kentucky Derby in under 2 minutes, Monarchos was bred in Kentucky by James D. Squires. His record time was 1:59.97. He also won the Florida Derby that same year.

Despite this record, he had a short-lived racing career due to a knee injury, and his record stands at 10: 4-1-3. He later retired and moved to Claiborne Farm. His notable progeny include Aces Star and Informed Decision, who won the Breeders Cup Filly.

In 2016, Monarchos ruptured an intestine and underwent surgery, which he did not survive.

Did You Know:

Despite being the second-fastest winning horse of the Kentucky Derby, Monarchos does not hold the record for the second-fastest run.


#1 Secretariat

Record Time: 1:59.4
 Year Foaled: 1970
Year Won: 1973
 Owner/Trainer: Christopher Chenery, Penny Chenery; Lucien Laurin
 Country: United States

Secretariatphoto source: VisitLex

With a speed of 1:59.4, Secretariat is the fastest horse ever to win the Kentucky Derby. One of the most famous horses of all time, Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973.

He was owned by Christopher and Penny Chenery, trained under Lucien Laurin, and ridden by Ron Turcotte.

Also known as “Big Red” due to his bright chestnut color, he set records when he won the Preakness Stakes in 1:53 and the Belmont Stakes in 2:24. He became an instant celebrity and received many accolades, including the American Horse of the Year in 1972 and 1973.

He was also featured in numerous news outlets, magazines, and television.

He would later retire to Claiborne farm for his stud career. He died in 1989.

Did You Know:

A film based on the life of Secretariat and his owner Penny Chenery was released in 2010 by Walt Disney Pictures.

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