THW: Kentucky Derby 2014

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 16 April 2014, Wednesday


Kentucky Derby 2014

San Francisco – Right around this time, the eyes of the global racing world are trained on Kentucky, where the Run for the Roses will take place on the first Saturday in May.

There are now 38 horses on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Contenders are chosen by a point system; only the top 20 make it into the race.

For now, the top 20 are, in order: California Chrome, Vicar’s In Trouble, Dance With Fate, Wicked Strong, Samraat, Danza, Constitution, Hoppertunity, Intense Holiday, Wildcat Red, We Miss Artie, Ride on  Curlin, Chitu, Tapiture, Midnight Hawk, Ring Weekend, General A Rod, Medal Count, Candy Boy, and Cairo Prince.

California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit x Love the Chase, by Not For Love) won the Apr. 5 Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the Mar. 8 San Felipe S. (G2), both at Santa Anita Park.

Vicar’s In Trouble (Into Mischief x Vibrant, by Vicar) copped the Mar. 29 Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.

Dance With Fate (Two Step Salsa x Flirting With Fate, by Saint Ballado) dominated the Apr. 12 Bluegrass S. (G1) at Keeneland, but at the moment his connections have not confirmed his participation in the KY Derby.

Wicked Strong (Hard Spun x Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) won the Apr. 5 Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct.

These top four contenders look like mighty strong candidates, but in racing, a longshot is always waiting to score an upset. In 1999, Charismatic won at 31.3-1 odds (he is Wicked Strong’s grandsire). Ten years later, Mine That Bird, sent off at 50.6-1, won by 6-3/4 lengths.

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This year’s Kentucky Derby is the 140th. Over the decades, it has evolved its own traditions. There’s the Garland of Roses, first awarded in 1896 to Ben Brush, the winner that year. In 1932, it took its present familiar shape, a blanket of roses that is draped over the winning horse.

It is from this tradition that the phrase “Run for the Roses” was coined in 1925 by sports columnist Bill Corum.

Each blanket is made of 400 or more red roses sewn on a backing of green satin, adorned with a “crown”, a single rose in the center pointing upward, symbolizing the hard work and passion that is required to achieve victory in the world’s most prestigious race for 3YO.

Another tradition is the mint julep, a beverage concocted with bourbon, sugar, water, crushed ice, and mint leaves in a metal cup.

Derby Day would also not be complete without the hats worn by spectators, from the frilly milliner’s confections worn by well-dressed ladies to the silly chapeaus donned by the boisterous set.

It’s a different story in the Philippines. Despite some racing institutions having been around for decades, there are no racing traditions. There aren’t even any archives left.

In all of the racing organizations I’ve worked with, all that remains of the past is a few photos and copies of old racing publications. Perhaps it’s because Filipinos tend to live in the present.  ***

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