Father Frank Niehaus, a Catholic priest who breeds and owns Thoroughbreds, knows the horses and knows his audience. On May 4, the day after the Kentucky Derby, he used racing's biggest event to reach out to his parishioners.
Niehaus celebrates Mass each Sunday at River Downs near Cincinnati, Ohio. After he read a Gospel that discussed Christ and his interaction with his apostles, Niehaus paused and said: "You see Christ, too, had a Funny Cide, and he was the original Empire Maker, preaching that Peace Rules -- Atswhatimtalknbout!"
"At least from the response, I know everyone was listening," Niehaus said as he served coffee, doughnuts, and juice after the service.
Niehaus runs The Backstretch Works of Mercy at River Downs and Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky. He attends to the spiritual and emotional needs of workers and their families on the backstretch.
Niehaus has been involved in racing for decades. He also is a pretty sharp handicapper who regularly co-hosts "The Regular Guy Handicapping Show" with River Downs publicity director John Engelhardt.