THE 2019 KENTUCKY DERBY PRIMER

CHURCHILL DOWNSThe noble sport of horse racing reaches its peak each spring time on the first Saturday in May with the running of the annual Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, far and away the sports’ most glamorous and publicized event of the year.

Best of all, the Kentucky Derby is just the beginning of a series of three races during May and June.  Each race is longer than its predecessor and therefore becomes more of a question of endurance for horse and rider, not to mention the guy with a big bet down on a certain long shot.

The horses are 3 years old and called thoroughbreds. They are some of the most beautiful animals on the planet are there in Kentucky to strut their stuff while vying for the first leg of horse racings’ biggest prize, the Triple Crown.

All a horse and jockey has to do is win the Kentucky Derby, against some of the fastest horses in America, on a mile and a quarter track in what has become known as the ‘Run for the Roses’.  The winner is immediately rewarded with a huge wreath of bright red roses which is draped across the horses’ neck as photographers and journalist feast on the spectacle.  The winner’s circle at Churchill Downs is truly mecca for all whose lives are wound around those beautiful horses.

The best way to really get a feel for these magnificent animals and their caretakers is to get yourself a paddock pass and spend an hour or so just walking around the horses soaking up all the sights and sounds and smells of the area where horse racing’s finest are prepped for the big race coming up.

If you have never been to a racetrack early in the morning, and you can find one that will let you in, by all means go.  There is a peacefulness around a track early in the morning as horses are taken out for exercise and a feeling of serenity before the coming storm pervades.  Saratoga Springs track in upstate New York is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth in the early morning.

After the Kentucky Derby, remaining contenders for the Triple Crown go on to the Preakness Stakes which is a mile and three sixteenth and run at Pimlico Race Course outside of Baltimore in Maryland and then on to the Belmont Stakes, the longest race at a mile and a half, in Elmont, New York to complete the cycle.

Few horses have done it, for to win all three races is something very special indeed.  Since it all began in 1875 only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown, and those are the stuff of legends like American Pharoah from 2015 and Justify the 2018 winner. Will 2019 yield number 14?

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