Kentucky Derby Trail: Checking in With The Derby Gods

Kentucky Derby Trail: Checking in With The Derby Gods
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By Steve Haskin
Cynics be damned, it's time to see what the Derby gods might be scheming. With the equine version of March Madness starting next weekend, this is the last opportunity in a while to look at the Derby in an ethereal sense.

There are earthly matters to discuss as well, namely this past weekend's races. Although the stakes as a whole didn't measure up to Derby quality, there was one performance on Saturday that stood out, and that was the allowance victory by Eddington. I'll get to his race later on, but first back to the Derby gods and a little diversion from speed ratings and dosage.

No, I don't believe there is some Zeus-like figure sitting on a cloud above the Twin Spires, decked out in a rose toga, deciding the fate of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with his celestial cohorts. So, let's just leave it to each person's own degree of romanticism when mentioning the Derby gods.

It's still early, but if the Derby gods have already sat down to discuss the possible recipients of their divine intervention, here are a few who likely have come up in the conversation.

Birdstone – First off, the Derby gods have already shown they like focusing their generosity on past winners. In fact, for their 125th birthday party, they invited back D. Wayne Lukas, Bob and Beverly Lewis, and Chris Antley to join them in celebration. So, there is no reason why they shouldn't feel one of their most devout worshippers, Nick Zito, has been away from the winner's circle too long. But the one person who fits right in with their past selections of Frances Genter, Paul Mellon, Mack Miller, William T. Young, Charlie Whittingham, and W. Cal Partee is Marylou Whitney.

A big supporter of the sport as an owner and breeder, Marylou is the last remnant of the powerful Harry Payne Whitney stable, which first won the Derby with Regret in 1915. Whitney's son, the late Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, husband of Marylou, was a titan of the turf for four decades. But amazingly, he finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th,6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, and 13th in the Derby. So unless the Derby gods are looking to complete some weird gin rummy hand, and want to fill in that 10th spot, this could be the year they decide to continue a trend and give it to someone who is long overdue.

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