My Old Kentucky Home sing along
“As the horses parade to the track, the University of Louisville marching band
leads the 150,000 strong crowd in singing My Old Kentucky Home.”
(Footage and Image : Kentucky Derby)
137th KENTUCKY DERBY
Summerhill CEOIn a country in which just about everything is bigger and better than most, where we are right now, nothing is bigger than the Kentucky Derby. The atmosphere is positively feverish, and for some trainers and their horses, it is a fever for which there is no known cure.
Size matters here, and in the horse business, big seems to be the fundamental word. Yesterday alone, we saw seven individual winners of at least one leg of the Triple Crown race. With the exception of Birdstone, whose upset in the Belmont elicited an apology from his owner, Marylou Whitney, for depriving the fabled Smarty Jones of his Triple Crown bid, every one of them measures at least 16.1 hands. But they’re not just big; most are bulky with it, no better illustrated in the 700kg frame of leading sire, Sky Mesa, who bears a remarkable resemblance to his “Emperor” grandfather, A.P. Indy.
Sports worldwide, particularly in the professional realm, have witnessed the proliferation in athletic size, and in racing herein lies a problem. They may be more powerful, and they may run quicker, but in our sport and in motor racing, there’s a saying that “speed kills”, and it’s no more true than it is in American racing. The dirt tracks here (which is the surface on which most top line events are staged,) are just a couple of inches deep, and when they’re wet, (which Churchill Downs is as we write,) the combination of sealing (or compacting, to keep the water from penetrating right down,) and the “slop” that inevitably emerges after a downfall, means horses are working on rock-hard surfaces often enough.
And this is where horses get hurt, especially the heavy ones. This week alone, the ante-post favourites for both the Oaks (Trippi’s daughter, R Heat Lightning) and the Derby, have been scratched with limb injuries, likely associated with difficult training conditions.
None of this though, detracts from the heat of the moment. Whatever happens, the hero this weekend will have his name in the history books, and someone out there will be willing to pay considerably more for him on Sunday morning, than he would have today.
Mick Goss - Kentucky, USA