I asked a noted horse-racing expert to help me out with something for the Derby, so KStafford from the excellent horse racing site THE ASPIRING HORSEPLAYER wrote this phenomenal piece. Enough of me, here’s KStafford!
They call it the “greatest two minute in sports,” and every year on the first Saturday in May the top 3 year-olds in the country arrive at Churchill Downs in Lexington, Kentucky searching for glory. The Kentucky Derby represents the most famous day in U.S. thoroughbred racing, the first leg of the famous “Triple Crown” (with the Preakness at Pimlico, and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park representing the 2nd and 3rd legs, respectively) and to the winner go the spoils of conquest.
This Saturday will mark the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby. When the gates open at roughly 6:00 pm EST, 20 horses will be running in the biggest race of their lives, looking to add their names to the proud and storied history of the sport. The list of previous winners reads like a who’s who of horse racing history: Whirlaway, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Barbaro, and Street Sense.
Their was a time not long ago when these names were known to all. Like the great boxers of previous generations, the great thoroughbreds inspired Americans through the roaring 20’s, into the depression era, and saw us through the dark days of World War 2. Eventually the love affair with horse racing began to wear off. Other new and more accessible sports began replacing horse racing’s place among the collective unconscious. Ever since then, the sport has struggled to keep up with the times.
All it takes is one look at the Derby to see why horse racing was once so popular. The horses themselves are gorgeous. The history and tradition of the track appear majestic and inviting. The challenge of selecting a winner seems thrilling and enticing. Read the rest of this entry »