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Holding It All Together-The Kentucky Derby

By Amy McCollom
It’s almost here! It is the one sporting event that I wait for all year long. The Kentucky Derby!  I just love watching that horse race every year! It’s been a family tradition for as long as I can remember.

The Kentucky Derby is usually held on the first Saturday in May. Well, it’s supposed to, anyway. Last year was an exception because of COVID, the race took place in September. But this year, May 1 is the date set for the fastest two minutes in sports! Well, around two minutes. The track is 1 1/4 miles. That is ten furlongs if you count it that way. But I don’t know that much about horses. I just like watching them run and feeling the excitement of the day.

Remember Lewis and Clark, the explorers who set out from Missouri to explore the western United States? It was Lewis’s grandson who was the man behind the creation of Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby takes place. He took a trip to Europe and attended the most popular and longest-standing horse race in England called The Derby while there. Then after traveling to France and meeting with the jockey clubs and horse race clubs there, he came home to Kentucky and decided to organize the Louisville Jockey Club to fund the building of the racetrack that we now call Churchill Downs. 

That was the start, and here we are today with the Kentucky Derby being the headliner for the Triple Crown of horse races, followed by the Preakness Stakes, and then the Belmont Stakes. There sure have been a lot of horses run around that track. The fastest horse by far, and best Triple Crown winner of all time was Secretariat who won in 1973 with a record-breaking time of 1:59:4. No horse before or after has ever beaten that record. I remember watching that race, even though I was a kid.

Here is another little tidbit; I picked that horse to win. I was eight years old, but just by reading the names of the horses I could pick the winner.  I had been picking the winners of the Kentucky Derby ever since I learned to read. I can still do it. But I don’t bet. I don’t want to get started in all of that, plus I think it’s wrong. I just do it for the fun of it.

I used to want to go to the Kentucky Derby, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m not so sure I still want to go now. I don’t like crowds, or walking great distances, or standing in line to use the restroom. I don’t like noise, and a lot of strangers, and vendors trying to sell me stuff, overpriced food and drinks, and the threat of purse snatchers or pickpockets. What I do like is sitting in my favorite chair with my little dog next to me, a cool drink on the side table, and maybe a snack. I like the bathroom to be steps away, with no lines of people, or strange stains or smells in there. So, I guess I really do not want to go to the Kentucky Derby after all, when you look at the reality of it. I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing and watch it on T.V.  

I like horses and think they are beautiful animals. But I had a bad experience as a child, getting bucked off of one during a pony ride at the park, so I’ve never been on one since. Horses can kill you if they wanted to, or if they accidentally got spooked. Perhaps they don’t realize how big they are, like my cat who tries to sit in a Kleenex box. Anyway, I like horses from a distance. 

Maybe someday I should work on getting over that fear. Like with any phobia, I will have to start out slow and work my way up to being around a horse, maybe a small miniature one at first though. If horses were as big as my dog, that would be just fine with me. 

I rode an elephant once when the circus came to town. I liked that a lot. When I was a kid, my cousin and I rode her cow around the pasture. Good ole Lucky; he didn’t seem to mind.  And funny enough, I would probably ride a unicorn if one wandered into the yard. Somehow I think a unicorn wouldn’t be mean, but I could be wrong. All I know is Jesus rode a donkey into town, and he also rode around in boats a lot, and I have yet to master either one. 

So I said all of that to say this: The Kentucky Derby is coming up and you should watch it. May 1 on NBC starting around 4 p.m. for the pre race coverage. Make yourself a cool minty beverage, put on a fancy hat, and sit in your living room and root for one of the horses. That’s what I’ll be doing, and it will make me feel good if I know I’m not alone. Plus, you will enjoy it, and it can become a nice little tradition. Here is the link to the Kentucky Derby website if you want to look online at all of the information there. Riders up!

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