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George Hale Has the Kentucky Derby on His Mind 

YOU KNOW GEORGE HALE LOVES SPORTS…BUT THIS WEEKEND, HE’S AS EXCITED AS A KID OVER IT…GEORGE:

“THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SPORTS WEEKENDS OF THE YEAR.

THE RED SOX AND YANKEES ARE AT IT AGAIN BUT A REAL THRILL FOR ME IS THE 142ND RUNNING OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY IN LOUISVILLE.

THE RACE IS THE OLDEST CONTINUOUSLY HELD SPORTING EVENT IN THE UNITED STATES.

IT STARTED IN MAY 1875 AT CHURCHILL DOWNS AND HAS BEEN RUNNING WITHOUT INTERRUPTION SINCE THEN.

I GOT INVOLVED IN HORSE RACING YEARS AGO, MOSTLY HARNESS, BUT HAVE ENJOYED THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF THE SPORT THROUGH THE YEARS.

THIS YEAR WE HAVE AN ADDED TWIST ON THINGS BECAUSE THE EARLY FAVORITE IS NYQUIST NAMED AFTER THE FORMER UMAINE HOCKEY STANDOUT GUSTAV NYQUIST.

THE SWEDISH HOCKEY PLAYER, NOW WITH THE DETROIT RED WINGS, IS THE FAVORITE PLAYER OF THE OWNER OF THE HORSE.

SO WE HAVE NYQUIST IN THE FIELD.

A MAINE CONNECTION.

MORE ON THE RACE IN A MOMENT.

IF WE DIAL BACK TO LAST YEAR HORSE RACING GOT A REAL SHOT IN THE ARM.

THERE’S NO QUESTION THAT IN RECENT YEARS RACING HAS STRUGGLED TO KEEP AFLOAT IN TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES.

IT’S EXPENSIVE AND HAS HAD A TOUGH TIME COMPETING WITH OTHER GAMBLING ACTIVITY SUCH AS THE LOTTERIES.

REWARDS ARE GREAT BUT SO ARE THE RISKS.

SEVENTY FIVE MILES AWAY FROM ALL THE EXCITEMENT TOMORROW WILL BE A HORSE THAT REALLY CARRIED THE SPORT ON HIS BACK.

NO MORE EARLY MORNING WORKOUTS, NO JOCKEY ASKING JUST A LITTLE MORE SPEED, NO MORE MEDIA CROWDS AND CAMERAS CLICKING AWAY.

LIVING IN EQUINE LUXURY IS AMERICAN PHAROAH THE FIRST TRIPLE CROWN WINNER IN 37 YEARS WINNING THE DERBY, THE PREAKNESS AND BELMONT.

THE FIRST SINCE AFFIRMED IN 1978 AND ONLY THE 12TH IN HISTORY.

AMERICAN PHAROH LIVES IN A PARADISE KNOWN AS COOLMORE ASHFORD STUD, A MAGNIFICENT 2,000 ACRE FARM IN BLUEGRASS COUNTRY.

NOW INSTEAD OF FLYING IN JETS TO THE NEXT RACE PHAROH WALKS OVER TO THE BREEDING SHED JUST 50 YARDS AWAY.

BUT WHEN YOU LOOK AT WHAT THE BAY HORSE DID FOR THE SPORT YOU HAVE TO CHEER AGAIN.

WAGERING ON RACING IS UP 3-POINT-1 PERCENT TO 2-POINT-4 BILLION.

THERE ARE A TON OF PEOPLE WHO EARN THEIR LIVING ON RELATED ACTIVITIES SURROUNDING HORSE RACING.

THINGS AT MOST THOUROUGHBRED TRACKS ARE ON THE UPSWING RIGHT NOW.

SOME OVALS ARE UP 12-PERCENT IN ATTENDANCE AND ON-TRACK HANDLE UP 8-PERCENT.

RACING EXPERTS CALL THIS ” THE AMERICAN PHAROH EFFECT.”

AND SO THE LATEST EDITION OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY WILL RUN TOMORROW WITH A FULL FIELD OF 20.

THOUSANDS WILL BE AT THE TRACK AND MILLIONS WILL WATCH ON TELEVISION AROUND THE WORLD.

IT WILL BE PARTY TIME EVERYWHERE AND, YES, THOSE SPECIAL HATS FOR THE LADIES PLUS MINT JULEPS OF COURSE.

YOU CAN’T BE A TRIPLE CROWN WINNER UNLESS YOU WIN THE FIRST LEG.

WHO WILL IT BE?

THE MOST EXCITING TWO MINUTES IN SPORTS SEEMS TO BE A WIDE OPEN AFFAIR WITH MAYBE FIVE HORSES IN THE FIELD WITH A GREAT CHANCE.

BUT THERE’S ALWAYS AN UPSET POSSIBLE IN THE FINAL STRETCH RUN.

I’LL BE CHEERING FOR NYQUIST FOR OBVIOUS REASONS BUT WILL ALSO HOPE FOR BRODY’S CAUSE SINCE MY DAUGHTER OWNS A HORSE WITH A SIMILAR NAME.

MEANWHILE, NOT TOO FAR AWAY, I WONDER IF AMERICAN PHAROH WILL PAUSE AND PERK HIS EARS UP WHEN THE CALL TO POST IS SOUNDED AND MY OLD KENTUCKY
HOME IS SUNG

MAYBE, BUT WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

WITH A STUD FEE OF $200,000 PHAROH HAS WORK TO DO.

NOT A BAD LIFE REALLY.

THIS IS GEORGE HALE WITH MY PERSPECTIVE ON SPORTS.”