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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Kentucky Derby stretches beyond just a horse race

TUES. | 05-18-21 | OPINION

     To most people, the Kentucky Derby is just a horse race where women wear big crazy hats. I was one of those people until I started to think about how I really did not know what the derby actually was or how it originated. The race is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and from what I have gathered, the Kentucky Derby began its traditions on May 17, 1875. The first race was 1.5 miles, compared to the usual 1.25 miles. There were about 10,000 people that came to watch the race and a thoroughbred named Aristides was the winner. That seems like an unusual amount of people travelling to just watch a two minute horse race, especially for back then. 

     The Derby has changed a lot since then, but has kept the same principle of horses and jockeys racing for “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” while people make bets on the victor. This year's race was on


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Saturday, May 1 and 20 horses and jockeys had qualified. Before the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the race had been held every year for 144 years without interruption. Due to the virus, the race was rescheduled to September of 2020. Even with COVID-19 limitations, this year's Kentucky Derby was able to host a total of 45,000 people to watch the race and 15,000 viewers closer to the track. There were precautions like wearing a mask at all times, having sanitation stations and encouraging social distancing. 

     The race is much more than just a horse race with thousands of spectators. There are also many traditions that go along with the Kentucky Derby.

     One of them being a beverage known as the mint julep which consists of bourbon, mint and sugar syrup. Obviously, I did not participate in this tradition, but I was able to find a video of the Thunder Over Louisville. This is an airshow and fireworks show that takes place at the Kentucky Derby Festival weeks before the race to stir up excitement. The derby is also called “The Run for the Roses'' because of the blanket of roses placed over the winner.Looking at all the work and time that goes into the festivities for this race didn't really make sense to me considering how short the race is until I saw it for myself. 

     I decided to watch The Kentucky Derby this year to see what all the excitement was about. I even placed a bet of $10 on the horse known as “Midnight Bourbon.” The race started at 6:57 p.m. and was a little hard to keep up with because of how closely all of the jockeys ride next to each other. I will admit, the speed they were running at was very surprising but it also made it hard for me to differentiate between the horses. The horse that did take home the win was “Medina Spirit” with 12-1 odds. Medina Spirit is now likely to go to the Preakness Stakes which is the second leg of the Triple Crown with the Kentucky Derby being the first. The third leg is the Belmont Stakes and only 13 horses have won all three races and become Triple Crown winners in history.

     Although the race is a little too fast to enjoy, it is very exciting. I understand why so many people look forward to it because of all of its traditions and festivities. Not to mention it is a great way to celebrate a non-traditional sport that younger generations don’t know much about. 

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