CNN's Richard Roth talks to analyst Richard Migliore about how the Belmont Stakes shapes up without I'll Have Another.
ELMONT, N.Y.-- Late Friday morning, a cluster of photographers was gathered inside the rail at Belmont Park, staking out positions for the hundreds of cameras that would be put in place to capture horse racing history a day later. In the parking lots surrounding the big racetrack, portable lighting towers were in place to illuminate the acres of parking lots that surround the oval. Inside, workers applied paint and polish to the grandstand and clubhouse, readying for what would surely approach a record crowd of 120,000 as I'll Have Another would attempt to become the first horse in 34 years to win the Triple Crown.
I'll Have Another, the winner of this year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, is out of Saturday's Belmont Stakes because of a leg injury and has been retired from racing, his team said.
Owner J. Paul Reddam announces that I'll Have Another won't compete for Triple Crown.
Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another will not race in Belmont due to injury. CNN's Richard Roth reports.
Do you know who Fonso was? Or how about Hindoo?
BELMONT, N.Y. -- Late Friday morning, a cluster of photographers was gathered inside the homestretch rail at Belmont Park, staking out positions for the hundreds of cameras that would be put in place to capture horse racing history a day later. In the parking lots surrounding the big racetrack in Queens, portable lighting towers were readied for use in illuminating the acres of parking lots that surround the oval. Inside, workers applied paint and polish to the grandstand and clubhouse, readying for what would surely approach the record crowd of more than 120,000, as I'll Have Another attempted to become the first horse in 34 years to win the Triple Crown. Three weeks of anticipation were nearly over.
Together, their ages total 156 years. That is more, even, than the 143 Belmont Stakes that have been run, leading to Saturday's renewal, with a Triple Crown at stake. And while in this place and time, there is much about horse racing that is troublesome, one of the beauties of the game is that it reaches across generations. Many sports are only for the young, while others watch, coach, write. Racing does not check IDs at the door.
It's the pinnacle of the English flat racing season, bringing together the best horses from around the country -- and even further afield -- to compete for a purse of more than $2 million. The annual Epsom meeting has spawned many similar events around the world, among them the Deutsches Derby, the Derby Italiano and, perhaps most famously, the Kentucky Derby.
A popular trainer faces accusations for using performance-enhancing substances on his horses. Ed Lavendera reports.
Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another surged to a surprise win Saturday at the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes, keeping its hopes for the coveted Triple Crown alive.
Most of them never see it coming. They work training racehorses, getting up before dawn to labor in a space where big trucks regularly pull up alongside their office and haul away piles of hay that are saturated with horse manure and urine. They might be successful in their own world (wealthy, even), but to the broader universe of sports and culture they are anonymous.
CNN's Ed Lavandera speaks to the son of a barn hand who was killed at Churchill Downs.
Wilson Perez believes his father's killer is one of the hundreds of stable workers who live and care for horses in an area known as the "backside" of the Churchill Downs horse racing grounds.
CNN's Joe Carter reports from the 138th Kentucky Derby on a stunning victory from "I'll Have Another".
A body discovered at Churchill Downs on Sunday, a day after the storied Louisville racetrack hosted the Kentucky Derby, may have been the victim of a homicide, police said.
I'll Have Another cut loose on the home stretch to run down Bodemeister and earn the first Kentucky Derby wins for his rider and trainer Saturday.
Calvin Borel, known as "The Paint Stripper," has taken three of the last five runnings of the Kentucky Derby.
Handicapping the Kentucky Derby is an impossibly difficult, sleep-depriving, hair-pulling exercise. And that's in an "easy" year. This year's Run for the Roses poses even more of a challenge because of the quality of the field. A case could be made for at least 12 horses to enter the Churchill Downs winner's circle around 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, which makes a trifecta box a bit, shall we say, cost-prohibitive.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- He remembers everything from the last time. The last time that really mattered, that is. That was six years ago, when thoroughbred horse trainer Michael Matz brought a giant, unbeaten three-year-old colt named Barbaro to Churchill Downs and left in very real pursuit of the Triple Crown. And then the plot thickened like few others in the history of the sport.
The Kentucky Derby is, without a doubt, America's most iconic horse racing event. England has Royal Ascot, and Australians flock to the Melbourne Cup, but few meetings capture the spirit of a nation quite like the "Run for the Roses."
Horse trainer Michael Matz will always be associated with one horse, 2006 Kentucky winner Barbaro.
CNN takes a closer look at Venezuelan jockey Ramon Dominguez, just days before he races in the Kentucky Derby.
Michael Matz has spent a lifetime working with horses -- first as a member of the U.S. showjumping team that won the silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and more recently as a trainer of racehorses. But he will always be remembered for just one: Barbaro.
The Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, is being billed as Round 3 between Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness Stakes champ Shackleford. That marketing hype -- in lieu of a Triple Crown attempt, build up the best storyline and pray for a healthy turnout -- is understandable though a bit shortsighted. The top seven finishers from the Kentucky Derby are back to contest the Belmont, making Saturday's "Test of the Champion" more than just a two-horse race.
INDIANAPOLIS -- With race day for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 just around the corner, some of the sport's most notable figures discussed with SI.com the significance of the World's Greatest Race.
Congratulations to all who had Animal Kingdom winning the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. This handicapping column did not have the chestnut colt as its top selection. (He was sixth on the list.) But as he returns to the track in Saturday's Preakness Stakes with a chance to add the second leg of the Triple Crown, we have enthusiastically jumped on the Animal Kingdom bandwagon.
ELKTON, Md. -- Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom has spent the last 11 days at home in a place called Fair Hill, which sounds like a '90s Hugh Grant movie (a bad one, just to be clear). But Fair Hill is actually a sensational place for a horse, as thoroughbred trainers like to say, to be a horse, instead of an object of pari-mutuel angst and media scrutiny, which is what the stately beasts become as soon as they are unloaded from a van and placed into a stakes barn somewhere.
Every year my Kentucky Derby day ends roughly the same way: A couple hours of chasing down owners, trainers, jockeys and various others connected to the race and its winner, followed by a 28-minute walk from Churchill Downs back to my hotel to write the story of the race for SI. (My personal best on this walk is 26 minutes, but there can still be crowds, which slow it down; occasionally it's raining, which can be hell on a cheap suit.)
In a springtime of pro basketball and hockey playoffs, of NASCAR and, heaven help us, mixed martial arts, it may be hard for anybody the sunny side of the baby boom to appreciate that what took place Saturday would have been, not so long ago, about the biggest sports day of the year. Yessir, both, the Kentucky Derby, the fabled Run for the Roses, and the greatest boxer on the planet, the legendary Pac-Man, defending his title. Same day. Whatta twin bill.
Kentucky Derby stories in the SI Vault
The horse, considered a longshot before the race, had never previously run on dirt
Jockeyed by a man who'd never ridden it in a race, Animal Kingdom made a late charge Saturday to win the 137th edition of the Kentucky Derby.
Nineteen horses and their riders geared up on Saturday for the nation's most celebrated horse race -- and first leg of the Triple Crown -- as an estimated 150,000 spectators gathered to watch the 137th edition of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Five things we learned from a wild and wide-open Kentucky Derby ...
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on Kathy Ritvo, who overcame a heart transplant to train a Kentucky Derby horse.
Each morning about 5, every morning without fail, Kathy Ritvo is at the track, always the most dependable 100-to-1 shot on the grounds.
LOUISVILLE -- Trainers preparing for the Kentucky Derby keep saying the same thing, over and over again. The race is wide open. There was Kiaran McLaughlin, a Kentucky native who saddled 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil, standing in the morning cold and wind Wednesday on the Churchill Downs backstretch.
Pick a name out of a hat. Close your eyes and point. Or better yet, go by colors, numbers and names.
On Thanksgiving, Americans fall asleep on their couches after succumbing to two of nature's most powerful sedatives: Tryptophan and the Detroit Lions. This combination of gluttony and monotony demands a new word -- monuttony? -- to describe the state of a nation narcotized by food and football.
Related Galleries for Nov. 1, 2010 issue
Moviegoers have grown increasingly intense about avoiding ''spoilers'' (probably because of all the information that spills out of the Internet.)
Five things we learned after Drosselmeyer prevailed at Saturday's 142nd running of the Belmont Stakes:
Before we dive into the Belmont Stakes, let's look back at the Preakness. This space could not have been more wrong about Super Saver. The race looked to be set up perfectly for him and, indeed, he was in the garden spot stalking a good, but not unreasonable, pace.
Here's what we learned after watching Lookin At Lucky win Saturday's 135th running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore:
BALTIMORE -- It's been pretty well established at this point that at the age of 43, Calvin Borel owns the Kentucky Derby. Three times in the last four years he has ridden the winning horse in the most important race in America, a transcendent event that owners, trainers and jockeys collectively spend entire careers dreaming of someday just contesting. Never mind winning.
Here are my five quick thoughts from a wild, wet and wooly Kentucky Derby:
The diet empire mogul's horse, Sidney's Candy, is a favorite for Saturday
Watching the post parade at this weekend's Kentucky Derby will surely fill some of our heads with dreams of horse ownership.
It's racing season in America! The Kentucky Derby is this weekend. Then it's the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. Get out the fancy party hats and pop the champagne!
Here's a solid bet: At a few minutes after 6 p.m. on Saturday, Chef Jo-Jo Doyle will have goosebumps on his arms, and he'll be in dire need of a nap.
1. CURLIN The decade's only two-time Horse of the Year was a tough-as-nails gamer who, according to trainer Steve Asmussen, "got better the more he got stretched out [pushed hard] in a race." Curlin came back on Street Sense in the 2007 Preakness to score one of the grittiest big-race victories in recent racing history, and then became just the second three-year-old in the 2000s to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. His owners did racing a favor by keeping him on the track as a four-year-old, and he won three more Grade I races before retiring.
In 2007 I wrote a book called Fanatic: 10 Things All Sports Fans Should Do Before They Die, which chronicled my year-long odyssey to a roster of iconic sporting events. The list -- Super Bowl, Daytona 500, Masters, Final Four, Kentucky Derby, Wimbledon, day game at Wrigley, Ohio State-Michigan, Lambeau in December and Opening Day at Fenway -- was not so much an attempt to identify the greatest events, but to see first hand the ones I had always wanted to check out but for one reason or another had never made it to.
These lists are not mere compilations of all-time bests in their respective sports but all-time bests at quickening the pulse and evoking a visceral response from those fortunate enough to have witnessed their artistry.
As a sometime member of the human race, Couch Slouch would like to extend an apology on behalf of other humans to fellow human Calvin Borel.
Late Saturday afternoon, Calvin Borel will chase an odd piece of history: He will try to become first jockey in history to win horse racing's three Triple Crown races on two different horses. His pursuit creates an odd slice of sideways hype for a race that truly needs a horse -- not a human -- to attract mainstream attention.
Preakness Stakes favorite Rachel Alexandra lived up to her billing Saturday, thundering past an all-male field of competitors and becoming the first filly to win the Triple-Crown's second jewel since 1924.
CNN's Richard Roth reports on the battle of the sexes that's the talk of the Preakness.
BALTIMORE -- At shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday, wine magnate Jess Jackson conducted a media teleconference in advance of Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Jackson, 79, had purchased gifted 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra a week earlier and will run her in the Preakness against 12 colts, including unlikely Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.
An air-supported roof over the Dallas Cowboys' practice field collapsed during a heavy thunderstorm Saturday afternoon, leaving 12 people injured, authorities said.
This article appears in the May 11, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.
Unlikely Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is on the cover of SI this week. He's the first horse on the cover since Smarty Jones after winning the Derby in '04. (Although to be fair, this week's photo has to be considered as much homage to fearless jockey Calvin Borel as to the 50-1 gelding he's riding.)
INDIANAPOLIS -- When Kyle Busch left Richmond International Raceway after last year's spring race, he needed extra security after spinning out race-leader and NASCAR hero Dale Earnhardt, Jr. late in the contest. Busch had become Public Enemy No. 1 in NASCAR.
I am sitting in front of my desktop computer -- damn the technology! -- staring at a blank screen. I work for a dying industry and today I am struggling to write about a dying industry.
Here are my five quick thoughts from an improbable, electrifying Kentucky Derby.
Longshot thoroughbred Mine That Bird plowed down a muddy track at Churchill Downs to win the 135th Kentucky Derby on Saturday by several lengths.
Even though the morning line for Saturday's Kentucky Derby suggests that this year's Run for the Roses is a four-horse race (top top four choices are 5-1 or better, and no one else is lower than 15-1), the reality is that a case can be made for perhaps a dozen entrants donning the blanket of roses around 6:30 p.m. Saturday. But playing a 12-horse exacta box is a bit cost prohibitive, especially in these lean times, so let's attempt to narrow the field using our observations from the Derby preps, an examination of the past performances, reports from the morning workouts in Louisville and some projection on how the race may play out.
LOUISVILLE -- They feel neglected. The trainers, the owners, the jockeys. The players in Saturday's 135th running of the Kentucky Derby are part of one of the great sports spectacles in America, and yet this year the stage feels a little smaller. The spotlight leading to the race feels a little dimmer.
This story appears in the April 20, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated.
If you sat down and wrote a list of the biggest events in sports, chances are the NCAA men's basketball tournament would be at the top. In fact, in terms of annual sporting events in this country, the tournament might only take a back seat to the Super Bowl.
The Kentucky Derby could have a more international feel next year. Churchill Downs has partnered with Kempton Park Racecourse in England to create the $150,000 Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes
It is the first Saturday in May, 2002; my first Kentucky Derby as Sports Illustrated's horse racing writer, following the deep footprints of my former SI colleague, Bill Nack. Ninety minutes prior to the race, SI reporter Mark Beech and I walk to around the clubhouse turn at the Downs to access the barn area, in order to later make the same walk in reverse to the saddling paddock with the horses and their connections. It is a something of a ritual, albeit a challenging one, in deep sand with dress shoes.
Buckingham Palace accountants insisted Friday that the cost of maintaining Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family is a bargain for taxpayers
In gathering darkness last Saturday at Belmont Park, trainer Nick Zito watched as horses walked on a dirt path inside his backstretch barn, cooling themselves after racing in punishing 90° heat. A tall, brown colt walked slowly past on a groom's lead, dropping and then raising his head with each weary step. "Hey, Da' Tara," said Zito, calling the horse's name in a raspy growl. Then he turned to a small group of visitors. "Right there," said Zito, nodding toward the horse. "That's the winner."
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Churchill Downs are separated by just 125 miles of southern Indiana countryside and the Ohio River. That's 50 laps around the Speedway, twice as many around Churchill. But the expansive motor racing cathedral, with its signature yard of bricks, and the stately horse racing track, defined by its dignified twin spires now dwarfed by grotesque modernization, are undeniably linked. Many of their most cherished traditions seem rooted in the same values. And each became the standard by which all who compete in their respective sports are judged.
There was something very different about this colt. He was pulled from his mother's womb in the broodmare barn at Monticule Farm in central Kentucky on the afternoon of April 10, 2005, deep bay in color but with a strange white dot at the top of his left front leg, near his rib cage. It was perhaps the size of a quarter, and none of the three people in the stall at the time of his birth had ever seen such a marking on a horse of his coloring. "What the devil is that?" said Monticule owner Gary Knapp. The horse's handlers, many of whom were Mexican, nicknamed him Punto Blanco, Spanish for "white dot."
BALTIMORE -- There was a sustained roar, equal parts exultation and relief, as Big Brown pulled away from his rivals in the Preakness at Pimlico on Saturday. Here was validation, not just for a colt who looks to be by far the best of his generation -- who now heads to the Belmont with a real chance to win the first Triple Crown in 30 years -- but also for a venerable sport that has spent the last two weeks defending itself against charges of animal cruelty. Big Brown's 5 ¼-length win did nothing to erase the horrible memory of the death of the filly Eight Bells in the Kentucky Derby, but by its very dominance, it did serve as a shining example of why the game is still played.
BALTIMORE -- Big Brown arrived Wednesday evening at Pimlico Race Track for Saturday's Preakness. He was preceded onto the grounds of the old track by two of his business partners: In front of his horse trailer a brown UPS delivery truck of the variety that is probably driving up your street right now, and behind it a UPS cab for pulling an 18-wheeled truck. I didn't see the guy with the squeaky grease pencil in the UPS whiteboard commercials, but I'm sure he'll be here soon.
They will run another major horse race on Saturday: The 133rd Preakness in Baltimore. This will come 14 days after Eight Belles' awful breakdown more than quarter mile past the finish line of the Kentucky Derby. There have been hundreds of races run since the Derby, at tracks across the nation, but in the vast majority of cases, only a few people were watching. Millions will be watching Saturday.
One of my favorite old sports-page words was "crafty." It meant, of course, some player, usually what we also always called a "veteran," who got by on his wits. Well, I can't remember the last time I heard anybody in sports described as "crafty.
For journalists, Kentucky Derby chaos begins in earnest when the race ends. We watch the race from some less-than-ideal location (we are given sensational viewing spots on the balcony at the front of the press box, but it is nearly impossible to report quickly after the race from that perch, because of the crush of humanity between the sixth-floor balcony and racetrack-level winner's circle). Then we scramble to find quick and genuine reaction, before time dulls emotions.
Here was a patch of racetrack earth where destinies collided last Saturday in the late-afternoon sunshine. Thoroughbred trainer Rick Dutrow ran awkwardly through sandy soil near the Churchill Downs finish line en route to an infield winner's circle celebration for Big Brown, the brilliant 3-year-old colt that Dutrow saddled for an epic victory in the 134th Kentucky Derby. Walter Blum, one of Dutrow's exercise riders and a longtime friend, threw an arm across Dutrow's meaty shoulders and yelled in his left ear, "You did it, man! You won the Kentucky Derby! The horse is a freak! He's a freak!" Dutrow met Blum's eyes and cackled wildly, a man locked in the sweetest of dreams.
Once again, tragedy mars the Triple Crown. But Big Brown could lift the cloud
Violent storms rolling across the nation's midsection unleashed tornadoes, high winds and hail in four states and killed at least seven in Arkansas on Friday
I was born and raised in Kentucky, a background that usually doesn't offer much in the way of conversation fodder.
CNN's Ray D'Alessio reports from Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
THE RACE -- The 134th Kentucky Derby, the most storied and important horse race in the world. It's also, by consensus, the most difficult to win.
Houston Texans patriarch Bob McNair is everything an owner of a professional sports team should be: involved without being meddlesome, supportive without being overbearing. He is self-made, smart and enlightened. The next time he is overcome by ego will be the first.
The story of the 134th Kentucky Derby begins and ends with Big Brown. Not the handicapping story, the story story.
Early Friday morning I drove through Gate 5 on the Churchill Downs backstretch. I motored along, without stopping once, through a maze of horse barns and small auxiliary buildings until I pulled into a parking spot alongside the massive racetrack, across the infield from the twin spires. One car was parked next to mine. Trainer Nick Zito, whom I had arranged to meet at the track, stood nearby, talking with an acquaintance. Not another person was in sight. Had I brought my crossbow, I could have fired arrows in four directions and not harmed a soul.