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Why is the Derby Called the Run for the Roses?

The race received the nickname “Run for the Roses” in 1925 from New York sports writer Bill Corum. The association of roses with the race is almost as old as the race itself. The first derby day saw a number of very posh parties leading to the opening of the starting gate and roses were handed out to the lovely ladies in attendance.

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EquinArt Creations

The much loved tradition led to the rose as the race’s official flower. Then in 1896, the tradition was expanded to the racetrack when jockey Willie Simms and his horse Ben Brush received a beautiful bed of white and pink roses for winning the race. They switched to red roses in 1904 when the state of Kentucky made the red rose its official flower.

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