The race is often called "The Run for the Roses" for the blanket of roses draped over the winner. It is also known in the United States as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports" or "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports" in reference to its approximate duration. It is the first leg of the American Triple Crown and is followed by the Preakness Stakes, then the Belmont Stakes.
Unlike the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, which took hiatuses in 1891–1893 and 1911–1912, respectively, the Kentucky Derby has been run every consecutive year since 1875. The Derby, Preakness and Belmont all were run even every year throughout both World Wars, when the Olympics and nearly all professional sports seasons were canceled, due to the fact that nearly all the athletes enlisted. A horse must win all three races to win the Triple Crown.
In the 2015 listing of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), the Kentucky Derby tied with the Whitney Handicap as the top Grade 1 race in the United States outside the Breeders' Cup races.
According to wikipedia