What a race. What a day. What a week. What an unbelievable experience for all involved with our America’s Best Racing Tour during the 2013 Kentucky Derby. On Saturday, despite a consistent downpour of rain throughout the day, there still were 151,616 in attendance (9th most all-time). I have no doubt that had skies been clear, a new record would have been set. A total of $184.6 Million was wagered on the Kentucky Derby card and $130.5 Million of that was on the actual Derby alone, both the second-highest all-time handles.
And how about Orb? Could not have asked for a more electrifying performance out of the nation’s top three-year-old, the hottest jockey in the game and an old-school owner/trainer combo that deserved this win more than anyone else in US racing. Stuart Janney and Dinny Phipps, first cousins and thoroughbred enthusiasts for decades, have bred so many successful stakes winners over the years, carrying on a legacy started by their family in the 1930’s. Shug McGaughey began training for the Phipps family in the early 1980’s and has enjoyed one of the most heralded careers of any active thoroughbred trainer, but prior to Saturday, neither Phipps, Janney nor McGaughey had gotten the privilege of receiving roses on the first Saturday in May.
Then there’s Joel Rosario. The 28-year-old native of the Dominican Republic had already won the 2013 Dubai World Cup aboard Animal Kingdom, and set the Keeneland Spring-Meet win record with 38, but Saturday’s victory was definitely the exclamation point to a breakout year that is far from over. Rosario now has 130 wins in 2013 and earnings of over $7.5 Million.
Without a doubt it was an amazing week and I can’t wait for the Preakness and Belmont to see Orb take a shot at immortality in becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. He is bred to go the distance. He has a Hall of Fame trainer and the hottest jockey in the country right now but as we know with horse racing, anything can happen. I will leave you with a video featuring some interviews I did at the Grand Gala in Louisville on Friday night with some former NBA greats. Enjoy.