Saturday's Derby was memorable for all the wrong reasons


Sports editor

They say the first time you attend a special event it will be memorable.

This past Saturday, Pete Swanson and myself headed down to Louisville for the 145th rendition of the Run for the Roses -- better known as the Kentucky Derby.

While the ole veteran was making his 15th Derby -- maybe more -- I was making my first trip to the hallowed grounds.

By now, unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know how the Derby ended.

No matter what happened, it was sure to be an event I wouldn't soon forget.

I have been fortunate enough to cover a lot of cool events such has numerous professional games in addition to NCAA tournament games.

But being at Churchill Downs for the "greatest two minutes in all of sports" and actually stepping foot on the track, most definitely takes the cake.

I was able to walk through the Paddock when the horses make their way out to the track.

I was able to be in the Winner's Circle to snap photos of the jockey's with their horses and pose for pictures with the owners and family.

I was able to stoop down near the finish line, in the slop nonetheless, and snap some photos as the majestic creatures sped past after bolting from the starting gate and also again as they crossed the finish line.

I was also there shortly after Maximum Exposure crossed the finish line leading the pack and then moments later hearing "hold all tickets."

From my vantage point, I could not tell what happened.

But having placed a "few dollars" on the No. 7 horse prior to post time, I knew how it was going to play out.

That's just how my luck goes.

After hearing the jockey and the trainer of the declared winner walk us through what they thought happened during the press conference, and also seeing the replay on loop for about 30 minutes, I am convinced the right call was made.

And although I lost out on a little chunk of change, I can't say that I am all that mad.

It happens.

What upset me the most happened around 9:30 p.m., local time.

After the final race of the night, the stewards who made the call to disqualify the No. 7 horse held a press conference.

Barbara Borden, who is the chief steward for the state of Kentucky, made a statement.

"We had a length review of the race," she said. "We interviewed affected riders (No. 1, No. 18 and No. 21)...we unanimously determined to disqualify the No. 7 due to interference turning for home, leaving the ¼ pole."

Borden has been in her position since 2012. She was joined in the press conference by Butch Becraft (state of Kentucky steward) and Tyler Picklesimer (Association Steward).

Following Borden's statement, which lasted less than 60 seconds, all three left the podium.

They refused to answer questions from reporters who waited around two hours following the conclusion of the Derby.

No doubt it was a difficult decision.

The decision process lasted 22 minutes.

But yet, the stewards did not feel compelled to field our questions and explain how they reached such an impactful decision.

I say "impactful" not because money was lost out on by bettors, but because it puts a black eye on the sport.

I could not begin to fathom making such a decision.

But I can most certainly say if I ever had to and made a statement in a press conference, I would want to explain myself. Not just because of my integrity would be in question, but also because of the integrity of the sport.

So in closing, yes I will remember my first time at the Kentucky Derby, but unfortunately I will remember the ending more than the overall experience.

Shame on Ms. Borden.

The 156,000 patrons at Churchill Downs and the millions more who follow this great sport deserved better.

Travis David is the Daily Clarion Sports Editor and can be reached at 812-220-4843. Follow him on Twitter @PDCprepsports and @Tdavid_21.

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