Reflections: Louisville Ready for 100,000 Derby Fans Important Stakes at Downs This Week Trial Final Test, Daily Racing Form, 1950-05-01


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that will increase s as as the the sport sport has has I REFLECTIONS *— By Nelson Dunstan Louisville Ready for 100,000 Derby Fans Important Stakes at Downs This Week Trial Final Test for Saturdays Renewal Clark Handicap Named for Col. Lewis Clark CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville, Ky., April 29. Following the running of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last Thursday, the trek to Louisville was quickly under way. That is dui ine start oi a converging on Derbytown each day as people from the far corners of the country, and some foreign countries as well, will arrive here by auto, train and air to see the seventy-sixth running of the race which is the first leg of the "Triple Crown." By the end of the week, Louisville will be jammed to overflowing, but the home folks take it in stride as they have become accustomed to entertaining one hundred thousand people who are eager to see Americas most colorful horse race. How many natives of Louisville mingle with the Visitors ■--» — has — -» alwavs been mw u a %» nupstinn hut. uuu — — -» mw u %» uuu s as as the the sport sport has has »*tihu ijuiiMuii they have always been horse racing euthusiasts been popular there as far back as 1783. In that year, races were run on what is now known as Market Street. Following that there was a race track at the foot of Sixteenth Street, but the most famous course prior to Churchill Downs was Oakland, the track at which the historic race between Grey Eagle and Wagner was run in 1839. Like most American cities, Louisville has grown with leaps and bounds. But with all its growth it still remains a typical southern city with a character uniquely its own. Louisville is already reflecting the holiday spirit along with the tenseness which multiplies as each day brings the town nearer to the Derby running. While the "Run for the Roses" was inaugurated in 1875, so too, was the Clark Handicap which will be renewed on Thursday, and also the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, a fitting forerunner to the 00,000 race on the week-end. The Derby Trial, to be run Tuesday, came into existence in 1938, and while lacking the age and tradition of the older events, it has served as a powerful magnet to both racing owners and fans as only those eligible for the Derby will go to the post. There is a very noticeable increase in the towns population by Tuesday morning, and by Thursday, the hotel lobbies reveal both small and large groups discussing the many Derby angles that have developed since the runnings of the Experimentals, Chesapeake, Blue Grass and finally the Derby Trial. Some people have snorted at the Derby as "a one day carnival," but the fact remains that there is no one sporting event contested on one day in this country which year after year excites the American people just as the World Series in baseball does over a period of days. Ten thousand people saw the inaugural running of the Derby on May 17, 1875, but 100,000 or more will be within the confines of Churchill Downs on Saturday. In its appeal, the Derby is often compared to" the Epsom Derby in that it grips the people of the nation during the winter months, then through the spring and right up to the day of the race. At Epsom, the great event is prefaced with a parade down the course amid a babel of noise from hymn-singers, hurdy-gurdy players, gypsies, minstrel men and bookmakers in outlandish dress. It is very different here in Louisville in the week prior to the Derby running and also on Derby Day. On a stormy afternoon in May, 1930, the 17th Earl of Derby stepped to the microphone at Churchill Downs and told millions of Americans "The day has arrived to which I have long looked forward. I am about to witness the race I have traveled 5,000 miles to see the Kentucky Derby." What surprised that famous English racing owner and breeder mostly was the hush that fell over the vast throng when the horses paraded to the post to the strains of My Old Kentucky Home. The English begin shouting" 15 minutes before the race starts, but the American reaction is entirely different until that roar, "theyre off* is heard from one end to the other at Churchill Downs. There is a big difference before the start of the two races as the Epsom Derby is the first occasion on which any English-trained colt is led to the post at a slow walk, while our sophomores get that education during their two-year-old career. The English canter their two-year-olds directly to the post in all events prior to the Epsom Derby, but in that "race they are walked very slowly. The Kentucky Derby will always remain a monument to Col. Matt J. AVinn, who died last year and whose policies are now being carried on by the able Bill Corum. But even before Matt Winn, Louisville owed a great debt to Col. Lewis M. Clark, the man who had the vision and love for horse racing that eventually brought the Kentucky Derby into existence. For years after the Civil War, Louisville was without a race track and it was Colonel Clark who determined to "v isit other sectors and study the system of stakes, the rules under which associations were successfully conducting meetings and then to adopt them in Kentucky. In 1872, he journeyed north and visited Jerome Park and other eastern tracks. From there he went to France and then England, and in the latter country was a guest of Admiral Rous, "the Father of Handicappers." On his return to this country, Clark determined to form an association and fashion a series of races after the conditions of famous English fixtures. His leadership was eagerly followed and after the formation of an organization, it was decided to hold a meeting at Churchill Downs on May 17, 1875. At the same meeting they ran the Clark Stakes which is now the Clark Handicap and which was named in honor of this sportsman who will ever be associated with the colorful history of Louisville racing. From the first running, the Kentucky Derby has been a race rich in episodes. It has been the Waterloo of some equine giants, the origin of such romantic careers as that of Exterminator and also has played a telling part in the bloodstock annals of this country. As in all other stake races, it was modest in value during the early years, but in 1914 it came into its own. The purse soared with succeeding renewals and with each addition became so rich in outstanding events that a book would be required in the telling, and just a year ago Brownie Leach wrote such a book. The race eventually reached a value of 00,000 and with it, throngs of 100,000 people. On many occasions, the race has been an "open" one, and that is very much the case this year, regardless of who is made the favorite at post time. This year, colts by imported sires loom powerful, but that is simply another angle to the changing of conditions that have been reflected by the successive renewals of the Kentucky Derby through the years.

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