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Kentucky Derby: only sadness on Derby Day

Kentucky Derby: only sadness on Derby Day

Kurt Wiesner, member of The Lead news team reflects on Derby Day:

The biggest sports day of the year for me used to be Derby Day.

My mother’s love for horses sparked my interest in The Triple Crown, and especially the Kentucky Derby.


I had absolutely fell in love with the 1979 movie The Black Stallion. I was 7 years old, and I imagined that I could be young Alec: a young unknown riding a racehorse to victory by means of a bond between boy and horse (hopefully WITHOUT ever being stranded on an island)…

The movie was a gateway to the stars of horse racing world: Citation, Man O’ War, Seattle Slew, Seabiscuit, Carry Back, Affirmed and Alydar, and the greatest of them all, Secretariat.

But it was some years later that a current horse caught my eye and made Derby Day among the most important of the year. A horse named Alysheba was bumped twice in the 1987 Kentucky Derby, and found himself far behind the herd. He had nearly fell to his knees. But he made an eventual charge for the finish to shock the horse racing world. I was now a big fan.

The end came for me in the 2006, when Barbaro broke down in the opening steps of the Preakness. He was a beautiful horse, incredible personality, and light years beyond his competitors. After trouncing the Derby field, Barbaro crashed the gate (false started) at the Preakness. The track veterinarian quickly decided he was sound to run. Moments later, his leg shattered in front of millions of horrified eyes. I have not watched a race since.

Read Kurt’s diagnosis of the issues and ideas for change here.

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Kurt Wiesner

Thank you Walter for sharing your story...

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Walter Windsor

For many generations my family has loved horses. On my mother's side, several generations were from Central Kentucky. I have always joined with my family via phone, regardless of location, to watch the Derby - even if we have been at different "Derby Parties." In 2009, I brought my family together, sat down to watch the Derby with my then 8 year old on my knee, and my 11 year old beside his mother. We sang "My Old Kentucky Home," and I shared family stories (ironically I have never been to the Derby, but have watched it religiously on TV). We drank sugar water with Mint, from family Julep Cups. When the accident happened and was revealed I cried and cried (which upset the children as much as the TV -- which I turned off). I have not watched the Derby since. A lot broke in me that day. I am glad you wrote about your thoughts...

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