The Brock Talk

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Favorite Derby

In 1987 Alysheba came into the Kentucky Derby with little fanfare. He had won only one of seven starts as a 2-year-old, but did finish third in the gr. 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Before he raced as a 3-year old he had surgery on his entrapped epiglottis to correct a breathing problem, and was winless in his three races before the Derby although he finished first in the gr. 1 Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland, his was disqualified for interference with another runner and placed third.

He never garnered much respect from the public who sent him off 8-1 in the Derby. Even though Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg had told anybody within earshot that his colt was going to run a super race.

At the break of the Derby, things didn't look any more promising as Alysheba and jockey Chris McCarron were pinched at the start and forced to settle in 14th place early in the race, ahead of only three horses. But as the field left the clubhouse turn McCarron steadily advanced a relaxed Alysheba towards the frontrunners. As they raced around the final turn, it was if Alysheba found another speed and excellerated quickly and athletically toword the lead and on his way to apparent history. Just inside the final quarter pole as the field straightened away, Alysheba had only one horse ahead of him, Bet Twice, and Alysheba had him in his sights. So much so, however, that Alysheba clipped the rear heals of Bet Twice and went crashing to his knees and his nose hit the track with 16 other thoroughbreds bounding down on him.

In a split second that defies logic, McCarron was thrown forward but quickly reached for Alysheba's head and the two somehow hit stride again in unison. Within a few more strides they had engaged front-runner Bet Twice again and in seemingly moments had taken the lead. Before most racing fans could fully comprehend what had fully happened in those final 25 seconds, Alysheba and Chris McCarron crossed the wire and McCarron was standing up waving his right handed whip in celebration.

What's your favorite Kentucky Derby story? Let me and our other bloggers know in comments.

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