Apr 18, 2012


ESPN decided to televise a 4 1/2 hour run up to the l982 Kentucky Derby and I was lucky enough to play a role, a much larger role than I anticipated.

Our host was Jim Simpson, a big name lured away from the networks. His travel plans were delayed and he did not arrive at Churchill Downs until an hour or so until we went live on air.

ESPN's Lou Palmer and I prepped as best we could while waiting for Jim's arrival from a tennis match.

"I don't know much about horses," He said '"You two are going to have to carry the ball."

Sen. J.E. Jumonville provided the most press attention Derby week. He paid $750,ooo to New Orleans grocer Joe Dorignac
for a gelding named Real Dare to run in the Derby. He then professed to know where Real Dare's testicles could be re-attached in order to impregnate mares.

The Senator provided further entertainment when squiring a buxom ecdysiast
around the venerable Downs. If you are old enough you might remember Louisiana governor Earl Long's similar escapade a few years earlier with Bourbon Street
favorite Blaze Starr. Real Dare did not win the Kentucky Derby, trudging home last of 19.

Windfields Farm general manager Joe Thomas had quite a laugh when it was suggested that the home of Northern Dancer might add a new member to its stallion corps in the form of John Henry.

Lou and I divvied up the interviews and my next assignment was race car champ A. J. Foyt. He was to meet me at a certain hour at the old covered paddock. I began to fret when AJ had not shown up yet. Then I heard some heated discussion between a security guard and a red-faced Foyt who was denied access and we never did the interview.

We signed off an hour before the Derby, amply replenished with food, drink and a racing form. Gato Del Sol looked playable in the big race at 21-to-1.