Kentucky Derby

J. Tyler Franklin

Churchill Downs Racetrack says it will move forward with the 146th runnings of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby with spectators in September.

The races, which historically happen during the first week of May, were delayed until September 4 and 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Churchill Downs said the events would happen as planned, with restrictions, after consultation with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and state public health officials.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Derby will be postponed for the second time in its 146-year history.

The race and its affiliated events are the major economic driver for the Louisville area’s economy, and equally important to the region culturally. Officials announced Tuesday it would be pushed back to September 5, making it the latest major sporting event changed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Public health experts are encouraging everyone to stay away from crowds to avoid spreading the disease.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Derby has an outsize impact on the Louisville region’s economy. It’s Churchill Downs’ signature event. Hotels run out of rooms and short-term rental hosts hike rates. And last year, the day after Derby was the busiest in the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport’s history.

With a little more than a month to go until Thunder Over Louisville, the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival, there are questions about how public fears of coronavirus could affect turnout. For Louisville, fewer attendees could mean less revenue for local businesses, according to one expert.

J. Tyler Franklin

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the owners of Maximum Security seeking to challenge the decision to disqualify their horse as the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Owners Gary and Mary West wanted the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky to reverse the stewards’ decision and find that their decision violated the couple’s constitutional rights to due process. They also wanted to have the $3 million Derby purse be redistributed to them, jockey Luis Saez and trainer Jason Servis.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Jockey Luis Saez has been suspended for 15 days for failing to control Maximum Security and causing interference that resulted in the horse's historic disqualification as the Kentucky Derby winner.

The decision by the Kentucky stewards was announced Monday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Saez was cited for failing to "make the proper effort to maintain a straight course" in the May 4 race at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Crowds Raise Fear Of Measles Outbreak

Apr 25, 2019
Pixabay

It’s a rainy spring evening in Louisville, less than two weeks from one of city’s biggest events: the Kentucky Derby. On May Fourth, people from across the U.S. and world stream into town to watch a day of horse racing.

With measles cases popping up around the U.S., public health officials and nurses are worried about the highly contagious virus spreading at the big race.

So they set up a vaccination clinic downtown, in a boxy, gray building off a busy street. Nurses stood at the ready to usher patients into individual rooms.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify finished a final workout at Churchill Downs Monday in preparation for the Belmont Stakes and pursuit of a Triple Crown.

Trainer Bob Baffert watched the colt complete his workout with jockey Martin Garcia. Jockey Mike Smith will be back aboard Justify in the Belmont.

Justify galloped with about 100 spectators watching on the Churchill Downs front stretch and just as many on the backside.

Kentucky Derby 144: The Wettest On Record

May 7, 2018
J. Tyler Franklin

Saturday’s 144th Kentucky Derby made history as the wettest ever, beating a hundred-year-old record set in 1918.

But the rains didn’t dissuade the crowds, who donned ponchos and sucked down mint juleps in spite of the weather. More than 157,000 revelers showed up to watch the races.

The track favorite, Justify, took home first place and overcame the so-called Apollo Curse. The colt didn’t race as a two-year-old, and it’s been 136 years since a horse has won the race without that experience.

All eyes are on Pimlico race track in Baltimore this weekend for the running of The Preakness, the second leg in horse racing's Triple Crown.

There's only one horse that can win racing's ultimate prize. Always Dreaming came from behind to win the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.

Few people watched that race more closely than Erin Birkenhauer. The Alvaton woman is a key employee of West Point Thoroughbreds, owned by her father Terry Finley. The company is a minority owner of Always Dreaming.

She was in the owner's box at Churchill Downs when the horse won the Derby. "I think it took me a couple of seconds to really start to cry because I was just in a state of shock," Birkenhauer said. "But that's alright. If you win the Derby what else are you supposed to do besides cry."

J. Tyler Franklin

After days of intermittent rain, the sky cleared up for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby and Always Dreaming won by nearly three lengths on a sloppy track.

It was a second derby win for the horse’s trainer and jockey, but their first together.
Winning Jockey John Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby in 2011, riding Animal Kingdom.

After the race, Velazquez said he will always look for his next derby win.

“Obviously you come back to the derby looking for another one,” Velazquez said. “You’re always hungry for it.”

Garry Jones/AP

Exaggerator has taken home the second gem in horse racing’s triple crown. The colt won a mud-filled Preakness Stakes on Saturday, handing rival Nyquist the first loss of his career and effectively ending his shot at a triple crown.

It wasn’t an easy win for Exaggerator, though. For much of the race, the colt trailed not only Nyquist but Uncle Lino, as well. As in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, Exaggerator mounted a last-minute bid to take the lead; unlike that last race, however, Exaggerator finished the job.

Nyquist entered the race as the odds-on favorite, trailed by Stradivari and Exaggerator, whom he narrowly defeated at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. Nyquist — who’s named for the NHL’s Gustav Nyquist by his hockey fan owner — has now gone 8 for 9 in major races.

Rain came down for much of the day at Pimlico Race Course, just outside Baltimore. Still, Nyquist’s trainer, Dale Romans, betrayed no concern for the conditions in the lead-up to the race.

“My horse loves the mud,” Romans quipped to AL.com.

Rob Carr / Getty Images

Nearly one year since American Pharoah made history, Nyquist has embarked on a star-making turn of his own at Churchill Downs. The thoroughbred has won the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

The colt beat out 19 other competitors over the course of a hectic mile and a quarter, crossing the finish line about a body length ahead of Exaggerator.

Jockey Mario Gutierrez earned a patient win with Nyquist, giving the racehorse Danzing Candy plenty of leeway to lead the pack early. Gutierrez kept Nyquist close, though, never dropping much lower than third. Nyquist pulled ahead in the final stretch and didn't ease up until he definitively captured the Run for the Roses.

The win didn't exactly come as a surprise. By mid-afternoon, the bay colt was pulling down 2-1 odds, cleanly earning honors as the heavy favorite. Nyquist — owned, trained and ridden by the same team that won the 2012 Kentucky Derby — approached this year's race with the confidence of having succeeded at Churchill Downs before.

"There's a quiet confidence in the group that's not flashy," owner Paul Reddam told Rick Howlett of member station WFPL before the race. "But — to speak Californian for a moment — there's a very good vibe in the barn."

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Every year at the Kentucky Derby, crazy hat-wearing, mint julep-guzzling horse-gazers break into a passionate rendition of Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home." As tradition goes, the University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band accompanies the crowd as they croon a ballad that seems to be about people who miss their happy home. "The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home/'Tis summer and the people are gay" begins one version.

But Frank X Walker, Kentucky's former Poet Laureate, suspects that most people are missing the point.

"I'm a Kentuckian, and I love my state," Walker says. "But at the same time, you know, the memories, the history this conjures up, I think people sing it and are totally disconnected from the history, from the truth."

He refers to these lyrics:

"The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright.
By 'n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night."

Walker says that though it may sound like "a happy family environment in a humble cabin experience," there's definitely something more going on. "My Old Kentucky Home" was written by Stephen Foster in 1852, years before the Civil War. Foster was an American composer, famous in part for his minstrel music. The characters he references — the ones who had to leave Kentucky — were slaves.

Instead of turning in a $2 ticket that would pay $3.80 for American Pharoah winning the Belmont Stakes, most people who bought the tickets are hanging on to them as keepsakes — or even investments.

American Pharoah became the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the venerable Triple Crown. The 3-year-old colt entered Saturday's race as a heavy favorite — and it seems that thousands of people who bet on him to win were doing so in the hopes of getting a souvenir.

Churchill Downs

The Run for the Roses is a few weeks away yet, but the solid gold trophy already awaits the owner of the horse that wins the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

The trophy is made of 14-karat gold and was crafted by New England Sterling in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, for the 40th consecutive year.

The trophy arrived at Churchill Downs about 10 days ago aboard a Brinks truck. Three smaller sterling silver replica trophies will be presented to the Derby's winning trainer, jockey and breeder.

Not counting the jade base, the owner's trophy is 22 inches tall and weighs approximately 65 ounces. It is topped by a 14-karat gold horse and rider and has horseshoe-shaped wreath handles attached to its sides.

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