What Time Does The Kentucky Derby End? It's The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 06: A horse runs on the track during morning training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 06, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Source: Dylan Buell/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

If you're a fan of horse racing, or of sports, or simply of big, shared American spectacles, then Saturday afternoon ought to be a happy time for you. That's because the 2016 Kentucky Derby is going down at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, the famed race that's undoubtedly the highest-profile such event in the United States. But make sure you know what time you need to be settled in by, so you don't risk missing the whole show ― are you wondering what time the Kentucky Derby ends?

The big race itself has been billed as "the most exciting two minutes in sports," and although that's open to argument ― plenty of people don't approve of horse racing on ethical grounds, and some might prefer, say, the last two minutes of a tight basketball game ― it does speak to just how brief and fleeting the event itself is.

There's a lot of hoopla and ceremonial procession, of course, as well as throngs of fans in lavish and showy attire, but when it comes to the thing everyone's actually there to see, it's over in a flash. According to the Kentucky Derby's online schedule, the race is supposed to start at 6:34 p.m. ET, and judging by how long the field usually takes to finish, it probably won't last much longer than its "two minute" description suggests ― the fastest a horse has ever crossed the finish line was Secretariat in 1973, coming in just a fraction of a second below two minutes, and last year American Pharoah finished at two minutes and three seconds.

In other words, you've got very little margin for error. Under most circumstances, you can afford to be a few minutes late to the start of a sporting event, and you won't get burned too badly. But in this instance, time is of the essence ― if you want to see the race, be sure you're watching by 6:30 p.m. ET, and you should have just a few minutes more to wait for things to start. Barring something completely unforeseen, every horse will have crossed the finish line by the time the clock strikes 6:37 p.m. ET.

Of course, it's not as if the airwaves are going to be dead until the very moment the race starts. Quite the contrary, in fact ― the Derby will be aired by NBC, with coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET, and continuing clear through to 7:30 p.m. ET, nearly an hour after the race has concluded. So, if you want to take a "better safe than sorry" approach to this, you can rest assured that the folks at NBC will have some pre-show coverage to keep you occupied. Hopefully you have a good time, even if it doesn't quite top the Triple Crown fever of last year's Derby.

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