May 6, 2008

Derby Day

The Run for the Roses. The First Saturday in May. The Greatest Day in Horseracing. The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. All these are names for the Kentucky Derby.

For those of you who don't follow horseracing, the Kentucky Derby is a mile and a quarter race held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. As one sports announcer said "The day of the Kentucky Derby is the one day, where the eyes of the world are fixed on Louisville Kentucky."

And why is that? The Kentucky Derby is not the "Test of Champions", the grueling mile and a half that the Belmont Stakes is, but it has proved to be the making of champions. 11 out of the 134 winners of the Derby have gone on to win one of the greatest achievements in racing: The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.

The Triple Crown is comprised of three races: The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Only 11 horses have ever won, the last being Affirmed, 30 years ago. Year after year, viewers wait to see if that year will be the crowning of a new champion. Since Affirmed, 10 horses have won both the Derby and the Preakness, but have missed winning the Belmont, one only by a nose. Every year after the Derby, viewers ask: "Could this be the year? Could this be the horse?"

Many of the horses in past years could have, but didn't. There is no guarantee that I am right, but this year, I'm going to say that I believe that the winner of this year's Derby, Big Brown, could very well be the horse.

He was the favorite for the Derby this year, but there were a lot of doubts. This colt had only raced three times in his career, could an untried horse deal with the Derby? He was starting from the 20th post position, the very far outside of the track. The last, and only other, horse to win from that position was Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.

But against all odds, he did it; and did it wonderfully. He had clear sailing the whole time, riding on the outside, back near sixth place. Towards the end, his jockey said he told Big Brown to go, and away they went. When you see above-views of the race, it is amazing to watch him literally take off. You can see an almost instant increase in speed, as he flies ahead to win by three and three-quarter lengths. It was, quite simply, breathtaking. In my humble and inexperienced, and certainly not qualified opinion, I think he has enough in him to easily run a mile and a half. His bucking off his jockey, not long after the race, is at least reason to believe he has plenty of energy to.

On a sadder note, to what was a triumphant day, the filly Eight Belles, who placed second, collapsed a quarter mile past the finish line. She had broken both front legs, and had to be euthanized immediately. She had no leg to stand on in order to attempt recovery; unlike two years past winner Barbaro, who, in the end, also had to be euthanized.

It now remains to be seen, whether Big Brown, the victor of Derby Day, can capture the elusive Triple Crown. Can he do it? Well, I think he can.

If you are interested, I would advise visiting other Derby related sites

1 comment:

  1. I am cheering for Recapturetheglory! He is a great horse and his owner supports great causes (such as some nuns I know...).

    It was exciting to see, especially cause I got to watch it on retreat w/ a bunch on sisters! I've never seen sisters jump up and down and yell before, but they all were doing so quite loudly, hopeing their horse would win. =)

    It was great!

    Gotta go...


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