No Derby? No way.

When he suggested that Kentucky thoroughbred racing could be weakened to the point that an out-of-state track might take on the Kentucky Derby itself, staging a bigger, richer race on the first Saturday in May, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo did a disservice to the pitch for expanded gaming in race tracks.

There’s enough merit to the arguments in favor of slots to let them stand on their own. Instead, now the public has been treated to a debate that is just silly.

As long as Churchill Downs stages a race called The Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, it will be the most recognized horse race in the nation.

The only way Kentucky loses the Derby is through sheer incompetence.

All right, perhaps that’s not so far-fetched.

In a front-page story in The Courier-Journal on Sunday, Churchill Downs senior vice president for communications and national affairs Kevin Flanery warned against complacency, and that’s fine. But he also played along with Stumbo’s scenario, mentioning how NASCAR has eaten into the Indianapolis 500 with its own event on the same day.

That’s a fine example, but misses the point. NASCAR is a rival form of racing in itself. For Flanery’s analogy to hold, a quarter horse race would have to somehow rise up and draw the kind of following the Derby does.

As Greg Hall’s reporting shows, nobody in the industry is interested in bringing the Derby down.

If Churchill and state legislators want to hold this over the heads of voters to try to sell the idea of expanded game, then the idea is dead already.

We’re always going to have a Kentucky Derby. Even if Churchill were to shut its doors, we’d have a race somewhere else, move it to Keeneland, open the infield, whatever.

Yes, racing in Kentucky is in trouble. But the Derby is the Derby. Racing in Kentucky should not be equated with Churchill Downs and the Derby. Those entities are the “haves” in this scenario.

And it’s mind-boggling that those who should be selling expanded gaming to people around the state have now drawn the attention of people to the “haves,” instead of the areas of the industry that are legitimately in trouble and in need of action.


13 thoughts on “No Derby? No way.

  1. And that is why the video terminal issue was defeated. People aren't stupid. Politicians think we are. But most people can smell a rat a mile away. Sell me something honestly, present the facts, and I will make a decision. Try to tell me the Derby is done, that the children will be weeping in the streets, and I get a bit skeptical.

  2. Well, they at least didn't make this Derby sell during the General Assembly debates. I thought that the issue was put forth pretty straightforwardly during that debate.

  3. "The only way Kentucky loses the Derby is through sheer incompetence.All right, perhaps that's not so far-fetched."haha, that was great.Churchill needs to get off their high horse, they are not the derby. That idea of it at keeneland doesnt sound all that bad. no way it could handle the people, but definately more of a beautiful place.

  4. The "Kentucky Derby" will always be held in Kentucky, sure. That is a moot point. But, what makes the Kentucky Derby is 1) the horses 2) Churchill Downs and 3) the history. Sure, they will always have quality horses at Keeneland, but without the other two things, the Kentucky Derby is no longer "the greatest two minutes in sports". I would HOPE we would never lose the Kentucky Derby as it stands today. But, to pretend it isn't a serious situation, or to ignore that it's about money is what got us into this problem in the first place. It may not be as dire as Stumbo suggests, but to suggest Keeneland or some other track could pull off "The Kentucky Derby" is just as irresponsible of a suggestion.Remember when the "NIT" used to be the biggest basketball tournament? Now it's college basketball's "loser's bracket". The same thing could happen to the Kentucky Derby. Frankfort better wisen up!

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