Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 2010 Kentucky Derby

The Run for the Roses
The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports
The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports
The Sport of Kings

Whatever you call prefer to call it, the 136th Kentucky Derby is almost upon us! It doesn't matter where in the world you are from, chances are you've heard of or even watched a broadcast of the Kentucky Derby.

Why is the Derby called the "Run for the Roses" you might ask? Good question! It is nicknamed that because the winning horse is draped with a blanket of 554 red roses. The current governor of the State of Kentucky awards the garland and trophy to the winner. The first recorded record of a horse being draped with the blanket of roses was 1896 and it has happened every year since with the exception of 2008. Big Brown, the horse that won the Derby didn't like flowers and the jockey didn't wish to upset the winner so he didn't allow the blanket of roses to be placed on the horse.

In a little over four days on May 1, 2010 the jockeys will saddle up, lead their horses into the stalls at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and shoot out of the gates to the words "and they're off!!" to take that two minute, one and one-fourth mile ride that will lead them to either fame or disappointment. The rich and famous, and even the not-so-rich and famous turn out in droves to sip Mint Juleps (an iced drink of bourbon, mint and sugar syrup) and eat a dish of burgoo (a thick beef, chicken, pork and vegetable stew). They party and celebrate the biggest event Louisville sees all year. In 2007 even Queen Elizabeth II attended the Kentucky Derby.

But it isn't just Derby Day seeing the partying. For two weeks before the Big Day there are parties galore in Louisville. So, even as you read this there is a party happening somewhere in Louisville, Kentucky celebrating the Derby.

If you're lucky enough to secure a ticket to the Derby you can watch the race from the infield, where the "average" spectator can sit for general admission prices although the seats are usually so poor you can see very little of the race. Or, if you happen to be rich enough or know the right person you can watch the race from "Millionaire's Row". Millionaire's Row is an exclusive and extremely expensive section of box seats where the rich, famous, well-connected and sometimes royal spectators are privileged enough to sit. It's there where you will see men and women in fine outfits and the ladies wearing large, and often rather elaborate hats. Unless you're just a race junkie that absolutely must attend the event your best bet, and best seat, is right in front of your television on race day. You can see every second of the race and don't have to worry about being seated in front of a woman with a large, ugly and annoying hat.

The Kentucky Derby is responsible for making such household names as the two most winning jockeys of all time: Eddie Arcaro (1938, 1941, 1945, 1948, 1952) and Bill Hartack (1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1969), Ben A. Jones, the trainer with the most wins (1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952), William "Willy" Shoemaker (1955, 1959, 1965, 1986), and Calumet Farms, the owner with the most wins (1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1957, 1958, 1968). Notable horses include Mine that Bird (2009), Barbaro (2006), Smarty Jones (2004), Funny Cide (2003), War Emblem (2002), Seattle Slew (1977), Dancer's Image (1968), Citation (1948), War Admiral (1937), Sir Barton (1919) and the very first winner of the Derby, Aristides in 1875.

Probably the most famous of all Kentucky Derby names is Secretariat. Owned by Penny Chenery and trained by Canadian Lucien Laurin and ridden by Canadian jockey Ron Turcotte, Secretariat is probably the most famous racehorse of them all. He was the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and he set not one, but two speed records. Secretariat completed the Kentucky Derby in 1973 at 1:59 and the Belmont Stakes in 2:24 . Both records stand to this day.

The Kentucky Derby is the first of three races in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing held each year. The Preakness Stakes (held on the 3rd Saturday in May each year) run at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland and the Belmont Stakes (in June five weeks after the Derby and three weeks after Preakness) run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York are the second and third events.

Only eleven horses have ever won the Triple Crown. The last horse to win the United States Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978. Perhaps this will be the year we see another Triple Crown winner?!

For more information about the Kentucky Derby you can visit the Official Kentucky Derby Web Site.

In the meantime, enjoy this video replay of the 2009 Kentucky Derby presented on the Kentucky Derby Official YouTube Channel. They also have videos posted showing you how to make your own gaudy Derby hat, Mint Julep's and other racing videos.

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