Friday, May 6, 2016


The horn will blow the call for the "Run for the Roses" on May 7, 2016 in the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The race is the first of the famous Triple Crown races for three-year-old horses.

Post Time: 6:34 p.m.


In 1872, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, traveled to England, visiting the Epsom Derby, a famous race that had been running since 1780. From there, Clark went on to Paris, France, where a group had formed the French Jockey Club and had organized the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp -- the greatest race in France.

Back home, Clark organized the Louisville Jockey Club to raise money to build a quality racing track. That track would become Churchill Downs, named for John and Henry Churchill, who provided the land for the racetrack.

The Kentucky Derby was first run at 112 miles, the same distance as the Epsom Derby. The distance was changed in 1896 to its current 114 miles.


American Pharoah won it in 2015. Ridden by Victor Espinoza and trained by Bob Baffert.

The first winner: Out of a field of 15 horses, Aristides, trained by Ansel Williams and ridden by Oliver Lewis, won.

Thoroughbred owners began sending their successful Derby horses to compete a few weeks later in the Preakness Stakes, in Baltimore, Maryland, followed by the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York. In 1919 Sir Barton became the first horse to win all three races. However, the term Triple Crown didn't come into use for another eleven years. In 1930, when Gallant Fox became the second horse to win all three races, sportswriter Charles Hatton brought the phrase into American usage.

The fastest time ever run in the Derby (at its present distance) was set in 1973 at 1:59.4 minutes when the great Secretariat broke the record set by Northern Dancer in 1964. Not only has Secretariat's record time yet to be topped, he did something unique in Triple Crown races: in each successive quarter (distance markers around the track), his times were faster. (The history of Secretariat is fascinating. Google it.)



Mint Julep: Iced drink of bourbon, mint, sugar syrup.

Burgoo: A stew of beef, chicken, pork and vegetables.

Derby Pie: A tart filled with chocolate and walnuts. (Secret family recipe).

My Old Kentucky Home: As the horses are parade before the grandstands, the University of Louisville Marching Band plays Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home," a tradition began in 1921.

Run for the Roses: So called because a garland of red roses is draped across the mane of the Kentucky Derby winner each year. The tradition originated in 1883 when a New Yorker presented roses to ladies at a post-Derby party that was attended by Churchill Downs founder and president, Col. M. Lewis Clark.

Large (race-obscuring) Hats: Though horse racing was “old hat” for British and French society, American women shied away from horse racing – yikes - gambling and drinking! Clark, being the visionary that he was and not wanting his new race to seem seedy, encouraged women to attend in the guise of a picnic with friends. Thus they created an allure by positioning it as a fashion event with full morning dress for men and women.
Col. Clark would be proud: Through the decades, we women kept our responsibilities in curtailing seediness. We wear ornate, ridiculously large, hats -- and sometimes gloves.

Watch the most anticipated shortest two minutes in sports!

Gerrie Ferris Finger
Books: Running with Wild Blood (Nothing to do with horses except for those powering a motorcycle.)
American Nights - release date: Aug 17, 2016