Southern Agenda

Big Derby B-Day

May 4 brings the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby, a mint julep–soaked event that, incredibly, has never been canceled and has been postponed just twice. When World War II delayed the race in 1945, creative minds in Louisville took the fete in a different direction and introduced a turtle derby; the speedy-ish terrapin Broken Spring blazed to the finish line first. Jessica Whitehead, curator of collections for the Kentucky Derby Museum, says there were a few subsequent turtle races in the forties and fifties, and the sprint of slowpokes reappeared in 2020, when the pandemic postponed the iconic horse race. The museum’s latest exhibitions look back on all the stories, years of wild hats, and surprises—Long Shots highlights underdogs like Rich Strike, who roared into first place in 2022 at 80-1 odds, and Donerail, 1913’s champ, who still holds the record for the winner with the longest odds, at 91-1.