The Derby

THE FOUNDER, BELIEVING HIS RACE A FAILURE, TOOK HIS OWN LIFE. BUT HIS CONTEST SURVIVED HIM, ENDURING SEVERAL BRUSHES WITH EXTINCTION TO BECOME AMERICA’S LONGEST-RUNNING SPORTS TRADITION. IT TURNS 125 THIS SPRING.

 

The hills of Kentucky have a tempered roundness to them, as if cupped in the hollow of God’s palm. A man named Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., played out his life among them. Here, a century and a quarter ago, on a coil of land just south of Louisville, he christened the Kentucky Derby, a race that would dominate his life and ultimately consume him. When he died in 1899, friends laid his body in this soil, under a blanket of bluegrass.

 
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Ruffian

There was a miraculous and all-conquering horse, a filly, not a colt, who in nine out of ten races broke or equaled speed records that had stood for years and decades, who in fire and presence and appearance was Black Beauty personified, and was, the author of The Black Stallion said, the mental picture he had of his creation. In her greatest moment she was struck down. She struck herself down. What had made her great de stroyed her. Tens of thousands watched in person, and millions on television. No small number wept.Read more »