It's Kentucky Derby weekend, and I'm probably paying more attention than usual. On a very cold day in January, we visited Churchill Downs in Louisville. It was one of our stops on the whirlwind tour of Kentucky, as we traveled to visit Brent in Morehead, KY, two hours away. We got our own private, behind-the-scenes tour of the grounds. Our tour guide took us into the suite where the Queen of England watched the Kentucky Derby. (I don't think that was a regular part of the tour, but the guide was cold, too.)
My Mom has always liked watching horse racing. I remember Saturday afternoons in the spring, watching the three races of the Triple Crown on the TV in our family room. I think horses must be in my Mom's blood. Her grandfather, Charley Neelly, was a farmer in Pratt County, but he made extra money by trading horses. He owned a total of 11 race horses during his lifetime. He also liked good driving horses. (Information from a family history written by my brother, Kent Moore.)
|My Grandpa Shelby Neelly is the 2-year-old (far left) in this 1906 photo.|
We also toured the Derby museum, and I was especially interested in a display which featured a John Deere tractor.
A lot of people don't realize how much goes into really taking care of the track ... I live and die this. I live and die the weather.While wagering and odds are beyond me, this Kansas farm wife can definitely understand the dependence on the weather. Another panel said this:
Butch LehrChurchill Down track superintendent
When the horses are running, the track must be watered, conditioned and properly graded so that animals don't trip on uneven ground. As soon as the weather gets warmer, preparations begin again for early March when the horses will return to the Downs. ... There are no artificial surfaces at Churchill Downs. As track superintendent Butch Lehr says, "We're kind of proud of our track."
|We didn't see any racing. The top photo was a huge video screen in the museum.|
Since our tour of Churchill Downs and of Keeneland Race Track at Lexington, Randy has been watching the racing channel as it's rained here this week, waiting for glimpses of places we saw and experienced. (Who knew we got the racing channel? Not me, but of course, my channel flipper found them!)
For the record, the Derby may be the "most exciting two minutes of sports." But it takes 3 hours of television to properly cover it. At least I can speed through the commercials.
It's like being a concert pianist. You can't think about the hours of study and the tears, the disappointments, the frustrations. Otherwise, you would never do it. You can only think about the day that you are on the stage.
Carl NafzgerHall of Fame horse trainer