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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Kentucky Derby

Imagine yourself going 35 miles per hour on a chestnut brown thoroughbred with 13 other horses jockeying for position. As you lean into the final turn, mud is flying everywhere, your heart is beating like crazy and you realize you're about to win. That is probably what it felt like for Oliver Lewis when he and his horse, Aristides, crossed the finish line of the first Kentucky Derby. It must have been exciting for him to win what is called the "most exciting two minutes in sports!"

Have you ever wondered where thoroughbred horses came from? "Historians say that it all started way back in the late 1600's and early 1700's. There were three kinds of horses, Darley Arabians, Godolfin Arabians and the Byerly Turk. In less than 100 years the lines of lineage crossed enough times to make an independent breed called the thoroughbred." Marsh, Carol The Mystery at the Kentucky Derby.

Horse racing has been around since Native-Americans roamed North America. In the late 1800s horse breeding in Kentucky became popular. Meriweather Lewis Clark Jr. established Churchill downs in Louisville. Does that name sound familiar? It should, he is the grandson of the famous explorer William Clark. In 1875 the first Kentucky Derby was held at Churchill Downs.

The Kentucky Derby is one of three events that make up the "Triple Crown" of horse racing. the Triple Crown includes:

  1. The Kentucky Derby held in Louisville, Kentucky in early May.

  2. The Preakness Stakes held in Baltimore, Maryland in mid May.

  3. The Belmont Stakes held in Belmont Park, New York in early June.

When Oliver Lewis rode to victory in the first Kentucky Derby it inspired many African-Americans to learn how to ride horses. It paid off because 15 of the next 28 Kentucky Derby's were won by African Americans. There has only been one African-American in recent history to ride however. Marlon St. Julien rode in the 2000 Kentucky Derby.

The Derby is referred to as the "Run for the Roses" because the winning horse is given a blanket made up of over 100 roses.

Post by JJ

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