Did you watch the 137th Run For The Roses at Churchill Downs yesterday? Did you have your mint juleps, burgoo, and chocolate derby pie? How about the lead up to the race?

For us, the back stories are essential. The road to the derby is always paved with heroic and sometimes tragic tales of the trainers, owners, riders, or the horse itself.

We loved the story of Kathy Ritvo who had a heart transplant and returned to training with Mucho Macho Man. We liked jockey Jon Court and his courting of the owner’s daughter who ended up winning her hand and hoped to win the race for his father-in-law aboard Archarcharch. We liked the bravery of A. R. Napravnik, otherwise known as Rosie, who was the only woman riding in the derby yesterday. Her mount, Pants on Fire finished ninth, making her the first female to break into the top ten finishes.

I am usually rather good at selecting horses. Sometimes it is just a feeling that I have when I see them or their names. This year was different. Right before the race started I declared that Animal Kingdom didn’t have a chance. He had never raced on dirt, had been on lay off for weeks, and at the last minute, had a new jockey – John Velazquez. His original rider, Robby Albarado, had suffered a crash during another race and had a broken nose and facial injuries. But even during the coverage of the lead up to the race, he was still slated to don a special helmet and take the famous ride. After Uncle Mo, who had intestinal problems, scratched, his jockey became available and the switch was made.

That was apparently a very good decision as he rode Animal Kingdom to a glorious finish. It looked like the horse just kicked in jets and blew the leaders away at the finish. Impressive!

Shackleford led most of the race after taking the lead from Comma to the Top – who finished last. Then Nehro challenged and came in second. Shackleford ended up taking fourth as Mucho Macho Man stole third. As for Calvin Borel, he finished a disappointing tenth on Twice the Appeal. And the favorite to win, Dialed In, finished eighth.

Archarcharch, the Arkansas Derby winner, stumbled out of the gate and suffered an injury – lateral condylar fracture to his left front leg. He walked into the horse ambulance immediately following the race and finishing fifteenth.
Besides the actual race, the singing of the National Anthem by Jordan Sparks was moving as the 911 flag was being held over the field. And it is always fun to see the celebrities who have shown up in Louisville for this event and the hats that the ladies chose for this special day.

The excitement of seeing this horse who was underestimated, leads us to look forward to Animal Kingdom’s performance in the next leg of the Triple Crown Race – Maryland’s Preakness. I’ll post information about this race as it becomes available. Stay tuned. We aren’t finished yet!

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