May 2, 2012 — It’s the first Saturday of May. It’s time once again for the Running of the Roses, the Kentucky Derby. This race in Louisville, Kentucky is as unique as any sporting event in America. It happens at the same time every year and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the three-year old horses that will line up at the gate. Almost every other sporting event gives you are second or third chance. You have the next game, next season, next year to amend for a bad performance. Here at the Derby it is one chance, on one day to become an immortal. I think one of the unique aspects of the Derby is few people really know much about the horses. It’s always a brand new field with some brand new stories. The tradition began in 1875, just ten years removed from the end of the Civil War. The first mile and a quarter winner was Aristides, ridden by Oliver Lewis. The 1889 winner of the bed or roses was Spokane, with jockey Thomas Kiely aboard. Spokane was bred and trained in Twin Bridges, Montana, making it the only Montana-bred winner of America’s most famous two minutes in sports. The race hit a milestone in 1919 when Sir Barton won the event. The horse went on to take both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to become the first triple crown winner. It may be one of the hardest things to accomplish winning three races in a six week period. Since Sir Barton’s milestone there have been only a total of eleven Triple Crown winners: Gallant Fox in 1930,
Omaha in 1935, War Admiral in 1937, Whirlaway in 1941, Count Fleet in 1943, Assault in 1946, Citation in 1948, Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. Secretariat set a track record that still stands today at 1:59.40. in
1973 at the Derby while two other triple crown champions, Whirlaway in 1941 and Assault in 1946 hold the Derby record for the biggest victory margin of nine lengths.
Only one triple crown champion made it through the Derby undefeated Seattle Slew. It has been 34 years since American last saw a triple crown champion. Could it happy this year? We will soon find out. It always begins the first Saturday of May. It’s the Kentucky Derby, the fastest two minutes in sports.