Katy awoke on May 2, 2020, gloomy that something important was missing, the Kentucky Derby.  Ever since childhood, Katy, now 44, and her closest relatives had treated the first Saturday in May as though it were a national holiday, always something to look forward to during dreary winters.

To fight the blues, Katy decided to get her endorphins stirring by going on a long jog in a nearby park.  She entered a familiar covered bridge, long reputed to have magical charms, and came out the other side dressed to the nines and in the midst of a huge crowd at a racetrack, which she recognized immediately by its twin spires.

She was puzzled that the crowd was so differently attired.  Many of the women were in styles characteristic of the start of the Jazz age in the 1920s and lots of their male companions wore boaters and sported spats on their shoes.  This was in stark contrast to the other half of the crowd, men and women garishly bedecked in clothes popular in the early 1970s. 

Katy struck up a conversation with a fashionably outfitted woman who commented on being grateful that the “war to end all wars” was over and that the deadly flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919 was finally subsiding.  Katy could commiserate, coming from a world in which a virus was causing fear, suffering, and deaths.  No such concerns were evident in the devil-may-care behavior Katy saw in the circa 1973 fans.

Katy, who only hours earlier was sorry that Derby Day had been postponed, found herself about to witness an epic Kentucky Derby, at a Churchill Downs where time seemed to be irrelevant.  The Derby would be a match race for the ages, one perhaps designed by the horse god Poseidon himself, to settle once and for all who is the greatest American racehorse, Man o’ War or Secretariat. 

In the paddock, a stylish Penny Chenery Tweedy briefly politely chatted with a stern Samuel Riddle.  But the stress was palpable as Ron Turcotte got a leg up on Tweedy’s Secretariat and Clarence Kummer set atop Riddle’s Man o’ War.  Riddle now had a chance to rectify his mistake of not running Man o’ War in the 1920 Kentucky Derby, an omission that likely kept the colt from becoming the second Triple Crown winner.

The bright Kentucky sunlight made the two red chestnuts appear surreal as they radiated power and paraded to the post in front of two frenzied contingents of fans from over fifty years apart.

The colts broke together at the start and remained side-by-side, mirror images, throughout the 1 ¼ mile journey to fame and glory.  As they swept under the wire, the Derby had been decided by the slimmest of margins, and there was a deafening roar of approval for what had transpired. 

As Katy approached the mysterious covered bridge on her way back to May 2, 2020, she thought of what she had experienced, though no one would believe her, not even her family.  As she disappeared into the darkness of the bridge, she marveled at how “Big Red” had proved himself to be the greatest racehorse of all.

But Katy, WAIT, WAIT…wait…which Big Red?

Copyright © 2020 Horse Racing Business


  1. Courtney says

    This article combines two of my own favorite loves…the Derby and history. Loved reading this one! Now if we can just watch the Run for the Roses in 2020, albeit late, that will be one for the ages.