"My Old Kentucky Home"

One of the most affecting experiences in the world of sports is the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home” as the horses assemble on the track just moments before the start of the Kentucky Derby.

No one can point to a definitive year that the Stephen Foster ballad became a tradition, but it was fist mentioned in The Courier-Journal in the May 8, 1921 edition. Since 1936, barring a few exceptions “My Old Kentucky Home” has annually been performed by the University of Louisville Marching Band. Churchill Downs honors the famed composer with the Stephen Foster Handicap which was created as a 1 1/8 mile race for 3-year olds in 1982.

For anyone attending the Derby, especially a Kentuckian, the song is a point of pride and many Louisvillians know the tune by heart.

Now that we have explained some of the traditions associated with the Kentucky Derby, let’s talk about the progression of American fashion and how major events shaped the look of the decades beginning with the late nineteenth century. Historical Kentucky Derby facts are located at the bottom of each page and we can’t wait for you to get started.