Although near constant rain poured on the Louisville, Kentucky, area over the past few days, leaving some doubt as to the condition of the racetrack at Churchill Downs Saturday afternoon for the 2017 Kentucky Derby, the sundresses, fancy hats and the seersucker suits were out in force.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 6, 2017
It was the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.
All were on hand at the track to witness the next winner of the “greatest two minutes in sports.” Last year’s winner Nyquist was draped in the garland of roses for his exploits.
— Lÿnn (@yeacarbonyea) May 6, 2017
Today, the track sure seemed fast enough for Always Dreaming, who was hardly threatened.
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 6, 2017
This year, between the track condition and the horses, there wasn’t a clear-cut horse regarded as better than the rest, but now that Always Dreaming has won the first race of the Triple Crown, the hype is certain to rise.
Before the race, Classic Empire, McCracken, Always Dreaming and Irish War Cry were mentioned by experts as the favorites.
And then there was everyone’s real favorite, Patch, the one-eyed horse. Patch lost his eye early in his racing career.
— #KyDerbyKids (@kyderbykids) April 30, 2017
Unfortunately for Patch, it was not his day, but at least he still has a Twitter account and nearly 3,000 followers.
Another storyline had been the return of jockey Rajiv Maragh, who rode Irish War Cry. Maragh nearly died after a racing accident in 2015 when his 1,000-pound horse fell on his 115-pound frame.
Initially, it was thought he suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung, but he also learned a day later that he’d broken eight vertebrae.
“For month upon month, my whole day was just painful,” the 31-year-old said. “I was in excruciating pain. I couldn’t lay on my back, and I couldn’t lay on my side. It was torturous.”
Today, he was back in the saddle, so to speak.
Next up? The Preakness and Belmont Stakes.