Louisville Magazine

APR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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138 REASONS WE LOVE DERBY No. 15: Its blood runs deep. The Nearness of Nearco You probably aren't aware of this, but the Kentucky Derby's greatest benefactor dur- ing the past 45 years has been an Italian who died in 1957. No, he wasn't a wealthy indus- trialist/horseman; he was a prepo- tent Toroughbred racer and stal- lion with magnificent genes. Since Proud Clarion took home the roses in 1967, the blood of Nearco has coursed through the veins of every Derby winner with the exception of one, Affirmed (1978), who instead possessed the blood of a Nearco half brother. A similar situation holds true for winners of the Breeders' Cup Classic: Nearco's full blood flows in all but Proud Truth (1985), whose direct tie is to a second Nearco half brother. Born in 1935, the same year as Unbreakable, the grandsire of the horse generally regarded as the great- est American-born racing and breeding force — once-defeated (in the 1953 Derby) Native Dancer — Nearco finished a two-year racing career 14 for 14 in wins, beating top Euro- pean competitors in races from five to 15 fur- longs. Fearing the intentions of fascist dicta- No. 16: Gotta buy a cigar at the track. And you can smoke it without feeling guilty — or overly pretentious. No. 17: It gives us a reason to re- read Louisville native Hunter S. Thompson's "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved." (Bonus points if you know in which publication the essay originally appeared.) No. 18: Great excuse to quote from it, too. Our two favorites: 1) "Un- like most of the oth- ers in the press box, we didn't give a hoot in hell what was happening on the track. We had come there to watch the real beasts perform," and 2) "I ordered a Margarita with ice, but he wouldn't hear of it: 'Naw, naw…what the hell kind of drink is that for Kentucky Derby time?'" (No, not Rolling Stone but Scanlan's Monthly, June 1970.) No. 19: #Winning. No. 20: Feet are the ul- [16] LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 4.12 tor Benito Mussolini, owner/trainer Federico Tesio sold his prized horse in 1938 to a New- market, England, breeding farm, which went so far as to build a Bid and Seattle Slew — accounted for seven Derby wins in the 1970s; another Nearco son was Royal Charger, grandsire of prolific Ken- tucky stallion Hail to Reason; and a third was Nearctic, sire of 1964 Der- by winner Northern Dancer, who would go on to become recognized as the most internationally success- ful sire of the 20th century. (North- ern Dancer's dam, Natalma, was a daughter of Native Dancer, so that was quite the double-whammy.) Good examples of Nearco's in- fluence can be seen in the lineage charts of current Derby champ Animal Kingdom and BC Classic winner Drosselmeyer. Among the former's great-great-great-grand- parents: Nasrullah, Northern Dancer (twice) and Roberto, son special air-conditioned bomb shelter for the in-demand stallion. One of Nearco's offspring was Nasrullah, Claiborne Farm sire of Bold Ruler, whose sons, grandsons and great-grandsons — Secretariat, Dust Commander, Cannonade, Foolish Pleasure, Bold Forbes, Spectacular timate Derby status symbol. If they're clean, you're a Grandstander. Dirty? Infielder. No. 21: If you haven't already done so, you need to befriend somebody who makes a killer Sunday-after-Derby brunch. No. 22: Storing the Derby on your DVR and periodically watching it until the following year's Derby. No. 23: The actual steamboat race doesn't require anybody's attention (except maybe the captains'). No. 24: It in- spires festooning your yard with bright-pink aza- lea bushes. No. 25: Windows are open and the drone of air conditioners hasn't yet filled the air. No. 26: That moment you enter the deafening tunnel to the Infield. No. 27: The city makes sure the down- town is spick-and-span. No. 28: Buying the Daily Racing Form at the liquor store around the corner bright and early Derby morning. No. 29: The bars are open non-stop from of Hail to Reason and dam Bramalea, daugh- ter of Nasrullah son Nashua. Among Dros- selmeyer's: Nashua, Nearctic (twice), Hail to Reason, Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer and Bold Reasoning, grandson of both Bold Ruler and Hail to Reason. — JW Friday until Sunday morning. No. 30: The spring meet opens the Saturday before Derby with, wait for it, night rac- ing. No. 31: The Thursday before Derby at the track has become — instant tradition — Locals Night. No. 32: Catching a glimpse of the Gov- ernor's Train on Derby morning as it rolls through Crescent Hill on its way in from Frank- fort. (Yes, this is the governor's ride into town.) For a moment you might think it time-traveled down the tracks from the 1930s, with its shiny passenger cars and dapper passengers hang- ing off the back platform and waving to onlook- ers. No. 33: The Historic Homes Foundation's Derby breakfast is a charmingly Southern af- fair, awash in mint juleps, mimosas, grits and country-ham biscuits. The scenic grounds of Farmington, an 19th-century plantation, serve as the backdrop. Scarlett O'Hara would be proud. No. 34: The Twin Spires. (See page 3.) ILLUSTRATIONS BY BART GALLOWAY

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