Only two days before the first leg of the triple crown, the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum Brands. The Kentucky Derby was first run in 1875 and first televised May 3 1952. It is know as the most "exciting two minutes in sports" because the race is usually run in about 2 minutes at distance of 1.25 miles or 10 furlongs. I find the derby to be exciting because it is the best three year old race horses in the country running. The Derby is sometimes referred to as the "run for the roses." The horses have been training all winter for this race and needed $125,000 in winnings to be entered. The Kentucky Derby is run on a dirt surface so weather can be a factor.
One Derby tradition is hats! No one knows for sure where the derby hat tradition started but Courtney Stinson, public relations manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum states that "They went around to all of the women's clubs in town and invited the women to dress up in their finest to come to the Derby. ... In that period, of course, the hat was essential, and the hat just carried through." It is exciting to see all the hats, each with their own unique style . Hats can range in price from $45 to $5000. So even if you don't enjoy horse racing, the people watching can be just as fun. NBC will carry the coverage of the race this year, turn on your HDTV early and enjoy!
Another tradion of the Kentucky of Derby is the Mint Julip. The Mint Julip is a very yummy drink. It is an iced drink consisting of Kentucky bourbon, fresh mint leaves a sugar cube , and traditionally served in a silver or pewter cup. If you go the derby you will get your Mint Julip in a commemorative Kentucky Derby glass which is a great collectors item. Also, it lets you keep track of how many Mint Julips you have consumed on biggest day of racing.
Because we are a veterinary clinic I need to insert a little veterinary knowledge into this blog. One of the most common questions I get is about using Lasix in race horses. Lasix is a loop diuretic (water pill) and causes the horse to urinate before the race. Lasix helps to decrease the severity of EIPH (exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage). EIPH is likely caused when the horse runs at full capacity and has micro blood vessels in their lungs break and blood enters the lower airways. The horses that bleed usually have a harder time finishing a race and are also predisposed to a respiratory tract infections. A recent paper was published that proved the Lasix decreases the severity of EIPH and keeps horses healthier. Most good trainers will have an endoscopic exam performed on
the horse after the race to see if there was any bleeding. This is an important function of a racetrack veterinarian as they can choose the correct treatment based on the findings. Horses are not alone because it has been reported that human athletes, racing camels and racing greyhounds all experienced EIPH while running at maximum intensity. Enough science for now.
To support the race, head to your closest parimutuel window to place your bets (like at Scioto Downs or Beulah Park) on May 7th 2011 and pick the Derby winner. Hopefully your long shot will come in first!. Post time for the 137th running of the Derby is 6:25pm on NBC.
If you wear your Kentucky Derby hat on Friday or Saturday into FeederCreek Veterinary Clinic you will receive a free Frisbee for your dog.
Jonathan A. Yardley, DVM