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Thursday
May052011

Survey: What's So Great About The Kentucky Derby?

What's So Great About The Kentucky Derby?

By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season

The entire OGS crew is disappointed about not being able to cover or attend this weekend's Kentucky Derby, but we've got a solid backup plan for you. We reached out to some of our good buddies and asked them what's so great about the event.

Mark Ennis, College Football Blogger — The best thing about the Derby is its connectedness to tradition. The Derby is still for the same aged horses on the same track at the same time every year and people embrace it by singing the same song (sans racist line) and wearing the same outfits. It's one of the few things you can do that is exactly the same as it was as far back as the 1880s.

John Erardi, Cincinnati Reds Sportswriter — It really is the best two minutes in sports. It's like having a guaranteed Game 7 every year in the pro championships of basketball, baseball or hockey. It's also great because — like the Masters — it's at the same, lovely place every year, and so easy to identify with in the springtime. Great event, great venue, great history. Has it all. Plus my mom and dad got married on that "first Saturday in May" in 1949 ("Ponder," of Calumet Farm, won it that year), so c'mon, what's not to love?


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Keith Farmer, WLKY-TV Sports Anchor/Reporter, Louisville — It's so much more than the trainers, horses and the race. It's the flair of clothes and hats, celebrities that come to watch the race and trying to pick the winner out of a field of 20. That way you have bragging rights for at least a year, likely longer!

John Fay, Cincinnati Reds Beat Writer — If you live within a couple of hours of Louisville, you should be required to go the Derby and sit in the infield. You may not see a horse, but the experience is worth it.

Jeff Garcia, San Antonio Spurs Blogger — Seeing which unknown horse and jockey will come out of nowhere to win it all. Of course this leads to all the talk about how this horse will win the Triple Crown, only to come up short. Will this year's winner do it? Guess we will have to wait and see.

Lisa Horne, FOXSports.com Football, NASCAR Reporter — It's the tradition. Mint Juleps. The hats. The gracious hospitality. The Derby is an incredible living snapshot of the Old South. It's like "Gone with the Wind" coming to life. The way the spectators tear up singing "My Old Kentucky Home" is simply incredible.

Andy Hutchins, Sports Blogger — I grew up watching the Kentucky Derby with my family. My mom doesn't care about sports, certainly not like I do, but she watches the Triple Crown religiously. So I remember the meals being readied so we could sit and watch the Derby on TV, and I remember all her "What a horse" comments. "They're moving so fast," she'd say. And she's right. But in those two minutes, those horses seared bits of what sports mean to my family into my memory.

Ben Jackey, Emmy-Award Winning Former Television Reporter — The people. It is hard to find a sporting event that exhibits the disparity of social classes like the Derby. You can find wealthy women from all over the world in elegant dresses and priceless jewels rubbing shoulders with the shirtless, hygienically challenged, highly intoxicated bumpkins. The people-watching is more colorful than the silks.

Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer Sports Columnist — It's the Super Bowl and Opening Day of horse racing. Every 3-year-old in the field could be another Secretariat until the starting gates open. It is the only race that really commands the public's attention anymore. The run for the roses, My Old Kentucky Home, — it's a mix of pageantry and nostalgia, a recollection of when this really was the Sport of Kings and racing didn't need slots and exotic wagering to be relevant.

Neal Lynch, Managing Editor, COEDMagazine.com — Southern belles and properly made mojitos. As master mixologist Kent Bearden would point out, don't mash the mint leaf!

Troy Machir, College Basketball Blogger — It's like Woodstock for preppy snobs and southern dandies. The best thing about the Derby (other than the mint juleps) is the fanfare. No other event allows people to dress like that. What other possible reason could somebody have for buying one of those fancy XXL-sombrero-like hats?

Christian Matthews, PR Superstar — The pageantry, the parties and of course the Bulleit Bourbon!

Dan McQuade, Rock, Paper, Scissors Aficionado — I hate horses. I really hate horses. I think they're ugly. I don't want to pet them. I don't know why they're allowed to just defacate on the streets in the downtowns of major American cities. I hate horses. And for about two minutes every May, I get to see 20 or so horses get whipped by tiny men in a pointless race around an oval for the entertainment of the ultra-rich. What's so great about the Kentucky Derby? The real question is: Why do you even have to ask?

Ramzy Nasrallah, Sports Blogger — Try and find another event with as much delicious bourbon, as many pretty women all fancied up and as much excitement as the Derby. You can't. It doesn't exist.

Chad Potier, LSU Sports Blogger — Because IT"S THE F'N DERBY!

Mike Royer, Sports Fan — I love the Kentucky Derby becuase it's nice for the world to look at Kentucky without making fun of it, even if it's only for two minutes.

Lee Russakoff, Comcast.net Sports Columnist — Gambling.

Barrett Sallee, College Football Columnist — It's the most exciting two minutes in sports. The buildup, pageantry and tension all give way to a thrilling two minutes that rarely is a let down. Even if the race is a blowout, you're glad you watched.

Bruce Sholl, OGS Contributor — It's the start of the racing season. It's a great excuse for a party. People get dressed up for it. The horses are awesome.

Tim Sullivan, San Diego Union-Tribune Sports Columnist — What's great about the Kentucky Derby is the atmosphere and the tradition. When you get down to it it's just a two-minute race with too big a field, but the trappings are tremendous. The race means so much to so many people, too, that winning it can be the crowning achievement of a lifetime.

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Reader Comments (5)

I will never understand why a two-minute horse race can command hours upon hours of network coverage. There is only so much you can say about horses with silly names and women wearing stupid hats. Much ado about nothing, and more nothing, and more nothing, and if you wait long enough you can watch horses run in a circle. It's all rather banal and pointless.

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Loomis

The race itself doesn't necessarily command so much attention. The unofficial lead-up to Derby Day is about a month, when the final prep races are scheduled and then the horses make their way to Louisville for their final workouts. In half the time, the Super Bowl gets 1000 times more coverage.

But even though you're only 90 minutes away from Louisville, I'm guessing you've never been? It's about far more than the horses. Much like America's greatest sport -- college football -- Derby Day is about the pageantry, the color, the atmosphere, the experience. Sure the race is only two minutes long, but you're at the track twice as long as you're at the stadium for an NFL game.

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