Racing History Blog

Aristides: The original Kentucky Derby hero

Posted May 12, 2021

In 1875, the “little red horse” won the inaugural edition of America’s most famous horse race

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 

The name Aristides was derived from the ancient Greek words “Aristos,” which means “best,” and “Eidos,” defined as “type” or “species.” The name was carried by an obscure second-century saint and later more famously by a fifth-century Athenian statesman, “Aristides the Just,” who was lauded for his integrity. On May 17, 1875, a small chestnut racehorse bearing the historic name Aristides proved to be the “best of his type” in a new sporting spectacle that generated tremendous anticipation prior to its debut — the inaugural Kentucky Derby.


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