-- It is the day of the Kentucky Derby, and you find yourself invited to a party but know nothing of the horses who will be running. Realistically, it is probably a little too late to start seriously handicapping if you only tune in for a handful of races.
However, if you are looking for a horse to cheer for, here is an interesting tidbit about each of them. Pick the one you like best, and you have just picked your Derby horse. Happy first Saturday in May!
In post position order:
1. Vicar's In Trouble: No fillies are running in this year's Derby, but if you are looking for some girl power, this is your horse. Vicar's In Trouble will be ridden by leading jockey Rosie Napravnik, who would become the first female rider to ever win the Kentucky Derby should they cross the wire first on Saturday. Two years ago, Napravnik became the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks, and she just won it again on Untapable.
2. Harry's Holiday: The Derby is one of Louisville's claims to fame, but a local owner hasn't won the race in quite some time. The partnership group of Skychai Racing LLC, Sand Dollar Stable LLC, Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner is looking to become the first to do so since 1906, when Sir Huon of George Long's Bashford Manor Stable won one for the home team. Harry's Holiday is actually now one of four horses to carry local hopes on his back. The others include Ride on Curlin, Intense Holiday and General A Rod.
3. Uncle Sigh: For those of you with ties to the military, Uncle Sigh is probably going to be the runner you like most. Co-owner Chip McEwen III races as Wounded Warrior Stables and about two years ago turned his focus to helping injured troops. Wounded Warrior Stables gives 10 percent of any purses or sales to the Wounded Warrior Project. Anthony C. Robertson is the horse's other owner.
4. Danza: Yes, yes this horse is named after Tony Danza since his sire (or father) is named Street Boss. Danza the human plans to be at Churchill Downs to watch his namesake run in America's most famous race.
5. California Chrome: This flashy chestnut is trained by Art Sherman,who has been garnering headlines all week. Back in 1955, Sherman accompanied eventual Kentucky Derby winner Swaps on his journey to Churchill Downs. In those days, horses traveled by train. Now, 59 years later, Sherman is finally back with a horse of his own. At the age of 77, he will saddle his first Kentucky Derby starter, and it isn't just any horse. California Chrome is likely to go off as the race favorite.
6. Samraat: The bookworms of the world might be want to take a second look at Samraat. He is owned by My Meadowview, which is the racing stable of Leonard Riggio. What does that have to do with reading? Riggio is the chairman of Barnes & Noble, Inc., the world's largest bookseller.
7. We Miss Artie: Like Vicar's In Trouble, We Miss Artie is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who are natives of the small town of Artemus, Kentucky. Ken has wanted to win the Kentucky Derby since his family took a trip to Louisville when he was 5 years old.
8. General A Rod: This is the horse for those who believe everyone has a price. Unlike Danza, this colt is not named after the A-Rod you might be thinking about. Rather, his owner, Armando Rodriguez, named him after himself. However, earlier in the week it was announced he sold his Derby contender privately to Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing partnerships for an undisclosed amount.
9. Vinceremos: Coincidence can lead to special connections. Vinceremos, which means to conquer or overcome in Latin, was not named after a therapeutic riding center riding center that carries the same name. However, since the horse's owner's son started volunteering there, friendships and memories have been made by everyone involved that will last a lifetime.
10. Wildcat Red: Some owners will go a lifetime and never get a Derby starter, but beginner's luck and sports go hand in hand. Wildcat Red is a perfect example of that. He is owned by Honors Stable Corp., the racing operation of Venezuelan Salvatore Delfino, a wine importer/exporter, and his wife Josie Martino Delfino. Delfino is a newcomer to the racing industry and has one other horse training with Jose Garoffalo, a winning mare named Trippi Honor.
11. Hoppertunity: You missed your opportunity with this horse. He has officially been scratched from the race and will not run.
12. Dance With Fate: Fans of the X Games, look no further than Dance With Fate for your Derby horse. He is owned by longtime partners Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing. Joe Ciaglia is the owner of California Skateparks, one of the premier designers of action sports facilities in the world, designing skateboard parks and facilities for the X Games.
13. Chitu: Even though they both involve horses, the equestrian show world and the racing world are very different places. However, they do occasionally overlap. Chitu is owned by Tanma Corp., whose president is Susan Chu. She fell in love with horse racing after watching Super Saver and I'll Have Another win their respective Derbies, but her background is in international show jumping. She is a member of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation and the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA).
14. Medal Count: For any fans of Barbaro, you may want to take a look at Medal Count. They share the same father, Dynaformer, who helped shape the breed. Dynaformer died in 2012, and it is likely Medal Count will be the last of his offspring to make it into the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby.
15. Tapiture: Looking for a stud? A horse called Tapit is one the most popular stallions in the country. He is the sire of yesterday's Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable as well as Tapiture. If Tapit can pull off the double, it will be pretty impressive and make him even more popular with the fillies in the future.
16. Intense Holiday: If you are a New York Giants fan in need of a Derby horse, look no further than Intense Holiday. The colt is owned by a partnership that includes Chris Mara, the team's senior vice president of player personnel. He invested in the Starlight Racing syndicate after the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI.
17. Commanding Curve: Better late than never applies to this long shot. Commanding Curve was one of the last ones to make the Kentucky Derby field under the new points system. His connections didn't know until this week that he would be allowed to run. If you are into cutting it close, he should be your pick.
18. Candy Boy: Sometimes coming out of retirement is the right thing to do. At least it was for Gary Stevens, who has the mount on Candy Boy. An Eclipse Award-winning jockey, Stevens won nearly every major race around the world before retiring in 2005 and becoming a broadcast racing analyst for NBC. Last year, eyebrows were raised when he went back to riding, but he proved all the naysayers wrong by winning both the Preakness Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Classic. No one would be stunned if he rode his way to his fourth Kentucky Derby this year.
19. Ride on Curlin: If you are wondering if that jockey who wins the Derby all the time has a horse this year, he does. Calvin Borel won his first career Kentucky Derby in 2007 on Street Sense, and then won again in 2009 with Mine That Bird and 2010 with Super Saver. He has won on favorites and on long shots and can never be dismissed come the first Saturday in May.
20. Wicked Strong: This colt's name should catch the attention of anyone who has ties to Boston. His owner, Centennial Farms, was established by Donald Little and is now run by Don Little, Jr. A native of Boston, Little named Wicked Strong in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and a percentage of Wicked Strong's earnings are donated to The One Fund Boston, which supports the victims and their families.