The first Saturday in May… The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sport… The Run for the Roses… even if you know nothing whatsoever about horse racing, you’ve heard of it. And if you’ve ever been flipping channels on some random first Saturday in May and stumbled upon it on NBC, perhaps you stopped and took it all in. The Kentucky Derby — up to 20 horses, all of them among the best 3-year-olds in the world.
Since 1875, every single year… through two world wars, through the great depression… without interruption… until today.
The pomp, the pageantry, the intrigue, the expectations, the finely-tailored suits, the elegant dresses, the big fancy hats, the mint juleps, the magnificent horses, the colourful jockeys, the call to the post, the singing of “My Own Kentucky Home”, the post parade and… of course… the race itself. For the first time since… ever… Churchill Downs is empty today. Louisville, Kentucky, home of the derby (and Muhammad Ali and KFC) is a relative ghost town. All of it postponed until the first Saturday… in September.
NBC, who has held the broadcasting rights to the race since 2001 and who blocked-off the usual 3 hours of coverage, managed to fill it with some excellent content… jumping between past and present day. The only word to describe the opening shots… haunting. The show opened to several pans of Churchill Downs, completely empty. Not a soul in sight. If you’d told me 6 months ago that that’s what we’d be looking at, I’m not sure I could’ve come up with a scenario to explain it, short of World War III — but even then, the previous two didn’t stop it.
There were lots of present-day isolated interviews, a re-run of the 2015 Kentucky Derby, and all of the storylines leading up to its winner (and eventual Triple Crown winner) American Pharoah. And then, the coolest part of it, especially being a tech-guy… they ran a simulated race with the best 13 of the historical winners — all 13 triple-crown winners battling each other. Their lifetime past-performances, meticulously and professionally put together by the folks at The Daily Racing Form, thrown into a simulation and rendered beautifully. I must admit, it was exciting to watch.
Secretariat won this virtual race, really to nobody’s surprise. … [Continue Reading]