My Racquetball Retirement Announcement Tuesday, Aug 26 2014 

I’ve seen dozens, maybe hundreds, of athletes face the media to announce their retirements from a sport. For those professionals, giving up on a pursuit they’ve loved for their lifetimes is often a sad occasion. The tears flow even as the body fails. In their 30s and early 40s, it’s a realization that it’s time to move on to the rest of their lives.

Well, I’ve played racquetball since 1980, and it is with some degree of sadness that I’m retiring from the sport.

I know why there aren’t many professional athletes older than 40. Competing at a high level in most sports takes a physical toll. After a knee operation in May of 2013, I thought, and was backed up by my doctor, that I could  make a comeback. But competitive racquetball requires quickness and mobility, and it’s just not there for me anymore. My ankles, a doctor said looking at my X-rays, look like they belong to an 80-year-old man.

And a few months ago, my physician suggested that it was time to find something else to do. I set out to show him, but have discovered he’s right. It’s not fun to see a ball I could easily get to, have my brain tell my body to move, and not get the response needed.

Before things get worse, I’m hanging up my racquet.

I took a class called Beginning Racquetball as a junior at WKU because I needed a one-hour credit and it sounded easy. It didn’t take long before I was hooked, and intent on becoming a champion, or at least winning a tournament. My interest grew when I got a summer job at the Louisville YMCA, where I could show up early for my job picking up towels and hit balls by myself on a court.

When I moved to Knoxville in 1982, there was a great facility and I spent many hours practicing, because I had plenty of time. I started playing tournaments, advancing levels until eventually I was competitive in the prestigious Open Division in tournaments. I played in Lexington, and Charlotte, when I lived there.

You see, I had the philosophy that everyone should be really good at one thing, and my thing was racquetball. I’ve been faithful to the sport, a constant in my life that survived changes in location and employment. And women. And everything else that I’ve done the past three decades.

I’ve played at almost every court in town, starting at the Y. There was a stint at the Jewish Community Center. American Fitness. LAC. Whenever I moved, a prime consideration was always how far it was to the courts. At the last complex I lived in, I chose it because it was among the only ones in town with courts. When I traveled on business, I took my racquet and sought pick-up games wherever I stayed. At my workplaces,  I took long lunch hours to get games in, or left early to get to a court.

My sons grew up knowing one thing their Dad always did — play racquetball. I took Nick and Josh, and later Luke, to the nursery at the clubs where I played. I taught Josh to play, and he took to the game, but never like I did.  After I entered Josh in a junior tournament when he was 10, and he won, a national magazine ranked him #1 in Kentucky, a fact he pointed out to everyone he met. A few years ago I got to play in a tournament sponsored by the U of L club he was in, and was thrilled to impress all his buddies who were shocked his dad was so good.

Every Father’s Day, Birthday and Christmas since I’ve been a Dad, I’ve gotten racquetballs as gifts. Luke, I think, has already bought some for my birthday. I’m not sure what he’s going to find to buy for me now.

I learned about online shopping by buying racquetball shoes and gloves.

The women in my life, and my bosses at various places of employment, accepted my passion, sometimes reluctantly. But racquetball was my constant companion, the one thing I knew would never fail me. The ball always bounced back off the wall, and I could go get it and hit it back harder. And the people who were closest to me understood that, no matter what, I would find the time and I would keep trying to get better.  Saturday mornings. Sundays. Lunchtime. After work. Every month, every week.

The game lifted my spirits, improved my mood, whether I was winning or losing. I really thought I’d be able to keep going into my 60s and 70s, like my friends Dave and Ed, but I just wasn’t blessed with the physical ability to do so.

I had been a high school athlete, and until now, always saw myself as a competitive athlete. Most of my friends knew little about this passion of mine. Few came to see me play in tournaments. But I played for me, for the competition, for the fun of sweating through a shirt and 3 gloves in an hour.

For most of the last 34 years, I played this game three times a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. For years, I didn’t go a week without playing. There was a foot injury in about 2000, and I tore an Achilles in 2004, but those were the only extended times when I didn’t play. I’ll never know the true number, but I would guess that I played 150 times a year through my 20s, 30s and 40s. Probably 15,000 individual games.

So I’ll miss the game. And I’ll miss the fraternity of guys I’ve played with all this time. If this were one of those press conferences, I’d be sure to thank all the guys I’ve played against, guys who also had family and work commitments but placed an importance on fitness and needed to satisfy an urge to compete.

I met Tom Raque at the downtown YMCA when I moved home in 1989, and we’ve been constant competitors ever since. I had a weekly lunch game with Dave Fly for years. Scott, Brett, Chip, Larry, Ed, Steve. We all know each other, and are always surprised when we see each other anywhere that’s not a racquetball court. Fight Club without the bruises.

I’ve recovered from hundreds of bruises on the back of my legs, the unique black circles that rise on the skin when you don’t get out of the way in time.  I always suggested to certain someones that we got them on purpose just to prove we were actually playing racquetball.

It’s been a long love affair, but all good things must end.

 

Drama in Darkness at the PGA Monday, Aug 11 2014 

There were fans who so wanted to see the finish of the PGA Championship that they set up at spots early in the morning on Sunday, expecting to be there for an exciting finish about 7 o’clock. But Valhalla absorbed another inch of rain, and the odds of the last group finishing before sunset were getting longer.

For nearly two hours, players and fans waited for the rain to stop. And when play resumed at 2:44, conditions were still difficult for the players and, mores, for the fans. It was a muddy mess in more of the well-traveled areas. New shoes were ruined. People fell.

As sunset approached, fans wondered what if? What if they have to come back tomorrow to finish? What if there’s a playoff? How do I get another day off work?

Ultimately, Rory McIlory, with a birdie on 17, took care of the playoff question, taking a 2-stroke lead. And an act of sportsmanship on 18, in which Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson allowed the last group to play up with them, assured that McIlory would eventually tap in for par on 18 to secure his 2nd Wanamaker Trophy and the $1.8 million first-place check. All in near darkness.

It seemed anti-climactic for the thousands around the final green, who had been waiting all day for this. The golf was great, but not filled with drama. McIlroy had fallen behind by as much as 3 strokes early in the round, but stayed focused, chased down Mickelson and Fowler. The turning point was a miraculous 2nd shot on #10, a 2nd which seemed to have a magnet to roll toward the hole, resting within 7 feet. The eagle put McIlroy in position when his competitors couldn’t finish out strong.

Louisville as a community didn’t disappoint. The golf course, the galleries, were all praised by players and officials. There were no incidents, no one was over-served, and generally everyone was polite. We got a memorable finish and a quality champion, a star-filled leaderboard. And when the PGA comes back, as we know it will, the city will gladly do it all over again.
Boots were the most popular fashion accessory on Sunday At #5, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson set up for their second shots McIlory struggled on the front, but charged home for the win in near darkness

The World’s Eyes on the ‘Ville — Ready to Toast Rory? Phil? Rickie? Saturday, Aug 9 2014 

There’s a tremendous story being written at Valhalla Golf Club this weekend, one that all of Louisville will give “legend status” to if it follows the script to its logical conclusion. There’s no doubt that people, all over the globe, will be focused on golf on Sunday, even if some folks here in town aren’t.

Rory McIlory is the kind of champion locals want

Rory McIlory is the kind of champion locals want

This week many local media watchers were focused on the hubbub at the city’s alternative newspaper — LEO Weekly, and the new owner’s decision to drop a planned cover story on the West End in favor of a column about a golfer, Tiger Woods. It was the first issue of the paper under the leadership of Aaron Yarmuth, who happens to be the son of a Congressman well-known for his love of the game.

Yarmuth absorbed plenty of shots for his decision, but it’s hard to think a local media organization could NOT consider the PGA at Valhalla front-page news.

But let’s get back to the golf tournament, where corporations paid up to $250,000 to entertain clients in tents along the fairways. The cost of weeklong passes approached $1,000, and locals wanted to impress the organization holding the event so much that they bought more tickets than at any other event in history. All this, despite the inconveniences levied upon spectators — like being forced to park more than 20 miles away and ride shuttles to the event.

Or being subject to shaming and the threat of cell phone confiscation for using a mobile device on the property.  I saw this take place on the 10th fairway.

And then there’s the weather. Rain delayed the tournament for about an hour Friday, and spectators endured Saturday morning rain showers. All that made walking around the course a muddy, slippery experience that caused additional inconvenience for some when parking areas became unusable.

And it’s not easy to watch a golf tournament in person anyway. Whether you follow a particular player, or stay in one spot and watch the field pass through, it’s hard to follow the flight of the ball. You’re always jockeying for a better view. And the best thing that can happen is if an errant shot lands near where you are standing and you get really close to the action. And unlike watching on TV, it’s really hard to keep track of who’s doing what on other parts of the golf course. There’s no P.A. here, and fans are constantly being told to shut up so the players can focus on their shots.

Certainly many locals citizens don’t know or care about all this golf business, all the money involved, and how mind-boggling it is how good the best golfers in the world hit the ball.

But it’s all taking place right here, off Shelbyville Road.  The weather gods, or golf gods if you prefer, saw fit Saturday to have the sun shine on the best of the best, Rory McIlory, as he finished with a birdie on 18 just after 7 o’clock, giving him a one-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round.

Media coverage is as international as the field. Going into Sunday, the world’s #1, McIlory, who hails from Northern Ireland, leads a relative unknown from Austria by a stroke. There are a couple of Americans, and the Top 10 includes an Australian, South African, a Swede and a Fin. Phil Mickelson, perhaps the next most popular draw in the tournament, had a great Saturday and lurks just three shots behind. One TV analyst proclaimed a win by “Lefty” would prompt a new nickname for the city — PhilVille.

Then there’s Rickie Fowler, he of the colorful, outlandish yet fashionable Puma attire, an American whose presence at the PGA prompted dozens of 7-year-olds to beg their parents for orange outfits to wear to Valhalla. Fowler is just two shots behind McIlory.

It’s really competitive. At one point Saturday, five players were tied for the lead, with four more a stroke behind. Even though Tiger, who won this event the last time it was here 14 years ago, missed the cut, the tournament is shaping up for a fantastic finish. A win by McIlory, who is considered the game’s next superstar, would lift Louisville and Valhalla to an elevated place in golf history.

Last year, the PGA took place in Rochester, N.Y., and was won by an unheralded and pudgy pro named Jason Dufner. Since he was the defending champ, Dufner was honored here Derby Week and even participated in a publicity stunt hitting a golf ball at the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs.

But Dufner, who left Louisville early with an injury, has nowhere near the star power of the fit and muscular McIlory.  Golf fans around here expect Valhalla to deliver a formidable and popular champion who can boast of Louisville’s role in building his superstar aura, much as Tiger did in 2000. Bernd Wiesberger, the Austrian unknown who goes to sleep Saturday in 2nd place and will play with McIlory Sunday, just wouldn’t be the kind of champion locals would adopt as ours.

Nothing against Wiesberger, but he’d be sort of a California Chrome, this year’s Derby winner who will be remembered as the horse whose ownership group had the nerve to complain about the hospitality at the track. No one expects Wiesberger to use Louisville as a launchpad to a superstar career.

For us, Rory would be a story for the ages.

 

Time to Start Keeping Score at Valhalla Thursday, Aug 7 2014 

After three mostly uneventful days at Valhalla, watching the best golfers in the world make the game look easy, it’s time to get down to business, starting Thursday morning. The PGA, the organization running the tournament, does a great job of feeding the media horde here (with stories, and food). But there’s only so many ways to manufacture news stories — and three days is about the limit without actual competition.

Tiger-Mania: “The business just got better at the PGA.” That was the comment WHAS-TV’s Kent Spencer made to me as we marveled at how the atmosphere at Valhalla changed about Noon Wednesday, when the PGA let it be known that Tiger Woods was on his way and would be playing a practice round at 2.

Some TV media camped out for two hours in hopes of getting video of Tiger pulling in to the club and parking his car. Later, on the Golf Channel, it was like the video of Tiger driving into the parking lot and getting out of his car was breaking news, worthy of repeated showings.

Ticket-buyers were drawn to every one of Tiger’s steps, forming the largest group I’ve ever seen staring at a man warming up on the range. The gallery lining the first hole was 3-4 deep on both sides of the fairway for 400 yards. No one in this sport commands as much fan and media attention.

On the range, Tiger was the  center of attention

On the range, Tiger was the center of attention

Up until the Noon announcement, the whereabouts and plans of Tiger were the event’s biggest mystery. Even with Tuesday’s Long Drive Contest, which generated some interest, it seemed the Valhalla crowd was acting more like it was at a Catholic picnic, more intent on socializing than watching golf, especially since the casual golf fan only recognizes a handful of the top players.

Tuesdays with Perry: The obvious sentimental choice to do well among the galleries was Kentucky’s own Kenny Perry, who was given a special invitation by the PGA to play in what he concedes will likely be his last major. At his press conference, Perry spoke of breaking his normal routine, babysitting grandkids onTuesdays, to play a practice round at Valhalla.

He’s certainly my favorite. Perry graduated from WKU in my class, 1982, and is celebrating his 54th birthday this month (his is Sunday, mine the 28th). He talked about the challenges in keeping his body going, taking Glucosamine and Fish Oil, overcoming knee surgery, and trying to compete with players 20 years younger. He sounded sort of like my racquetball buddies describing aches and pains and how hard it is to keep going physically.

Perry talked about his joy at getting to play at Valhalla

Perry talked about his joy at getting to play at Valhalla

“I’m taking some things that seem to have helped my knees. I’ve had two knee surgeries, one on each knee, and what I struggle with is uneven lies. That hurts me more than anything now,” he said. Later he mentioned the challenge of keeping his weight down and eating right. Just like the rest of us.

Watson’s Picks: There’s more on the line than simply the $1.8 million purse the winner gets on Sunday. At Tom Watson’s press conference, the Ryder Cup captain spoke of the challenges for players trying to qualify for nine guaranteed spots on the Ryder Cup team that will compete overseas later this year. Several pros have a shot at making the team with a high finish here.

And he announced some news — that he’d picked Steve Stricker as a Vice Captain. That could be good news for Tiger, who won’t qualify for the team and must hope Watson picks him with one of his three Captain’s picks. Tiger and Stricker are friends, and most think he could have some influence on Watson’s choices when he picks three players in September.

Wanna Wannamker?: I admire the PGA’s marketing expertise for coming up with the concept of the Wannamaker ticket. It’s a higher-priced ticket that includes admission to an air-conditioned tent, where they serve food and drink and have TVs. The PGA charges quite a premium for the privilege.

Great form hitting a golf ball at Slugger Museum

Great form hitting a golf ball at Slugger Museum

Gotta be the Glove: Hillerich & Bradsby seems to have struggled in the last decade or so to compete in the crowded field of golf equipment suppliers. Its doesn’t even make its once-popular PowerBilt brand of clubs any longer. But the company has a glove division called Bionic, and hosted a party at Slugger Museum to introduce its golf glove to the international media gathered in Louisville.

At the event, there was a golf pro there to evaluate swings, so I teed it up right on Main Street.

 

 

 

Think Watching Golf is Boring? Not at Valhalla Monday, Aug 4 2014 

I used to think so too.

That was, of course, before I learned how to play, and play better, and study the form and technique of people who know what they’re doing on a golf course. And at this week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla, the best players in the world are working their magic.

The pros are good. At Monday’s practice round, I probably saw two dozen shots taken by various pros. They never miss. At least not by much. I saw Miguel Angel Jiminez, the Spaniard famous for smoking a stogie during his round, fire a couple of darts from a hundred yards within 5 feet of a hole. Then he put a tee shot on a 210-yard par 3 within 10 feet. All the while strolling along, smoking, as a woman carried an umbrella for him to block the sun.

All the pros I saw seemed at ease. But they were working. Because everyone here wants to win. The prize isn’t just money, it’s immortality. As I learned during last week’s Rusty Satellite interview with Larry Sinclair, the field will be playing in front of the largest crowd in PGA history, with some 250,000 people walking around the course.

The crowd was relatively sparse on Monday, though there were plenty of folks in expansive (and air-conditioned) PGA Merchandise Shop. And everyone is talking golf. The story lines: Rory McIlory is the hottest player in the game, having won the Open and last week’s Firestone tournament. But Sergio Garcia (perhaps Sham to McIlroy’s Secretariat?) has finished second both times. People like the chances for Rickie Fowler, who has enjoying a great year but hasn’t won a major. That’s who national sportswriter Pat Forde likes. Forde is a guest on this week’s Rusty Satellite Show.

Miguel Angel Jiminez on Monday at Valhalla

Miguel Angel Jiminez on Monday at Valhalla

My sentimental choice to win is Kenny Perry, who graduated in my class at WKU and, like me, is celebrating his 54th birthday this month.

And always there’s Tiger Woods. As of Monday night, it’s still not known whether Woods will be here. After pulling out of Sundays’ final round at Firestone with an injury, he called a press conference for Tuesday. But it’s been postponed.

In the media tent Monday, local legend Bobby Nichols was holding a press conference. He won this tournament 50 years ago in Columbus, and this week a mural was erected in his honor along the Watterson Expressway. Paul Hornung was there as part of the proceedings.

The great thing about such a big event, happening right here, is that you can run into anyone, at any time. Right here in Louisville.

PGATee

Seeing the pros up close is what it’s all about for golf fans at practice rounds

The truth is that watching a practice round isn’t all that exciting. There’s no scoreboard, no scoring, nothing at stake. But it can have its moments, in the same way that watching sluggers like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa take batting practice was exciting. That’s because you’re watching the best athletes in the world perform in their specialty, feats you can’t imagine.

Most fans don’t know most of the players not named McIlroy, Mickelson, Garcia, or Tiger. But it doesn’t really matter.

You might think the gap between your game and Rory McIlroy’s couldn’t be THAT wide. t watched the final round from Akron on TV Sunday, as McIlroy overcame a three-stroke deficit to edge Garcia by 3 strokes. But he averaged more than 300 yards off the tee. The pros hit wedges 170 yards. They hit it out of sand trips without effort, and make routine putts that would leave you jumping around on the green.

That “These Guys are Good” campaign is truth in advertising. They’re here this week at Valhalla. You don’t want to miss it.

 

 

The First 99 Most Interesting People in the ‘Ville Sunday, Jun 15 2014 

Well, the Rusty Satellite Show has almost made it to a major milestone. This week will mark the 52nd episode of the Rusty podcast.  The list below includes politicians, media professionals, lawyers, entrepreneurs, athletes, professors, public officials and a lot of good friends who agreed to help me build this little show.

On Father’s Day, it’s also worth mentioning my son, Nick Redding, now living in New Orleans, who came up with the Rusty Satellite moniker many years ago as a middle school student. It’s a great name.

I’m trying to make this little show a bit bigger, and one way to do so is to publish a book showcasing the special talents and people who have appeared on the show. Stay tuned for an update on that project in the near future.  For now, here’s the list, and stay tuned for Rusty’s 100th guest coming up this Thursday.

Allen, Tyler

Arnold, Joe

Asher, John

Ashton, John

Bell, Jill

Berry, Mike

Bisig, Larry

Boel, John

Boyd, Terry

Brown, John Y III

Budde, Neil

Buthod, Craig

Carter, Mark

Clark, Perry

Coffey, Claudia

Cogan, Shannon

Coomes, Mark

Coomes, Steve

Cosby, John

Crawford, Eric

Davenport, Scotty

Davis, J.P.

Domine, David

Esrock, Margue

Estopinal, Wayne

Faulkner, Karen

Fehder, Steve

Fenton, Angie

Fischer, Greg

Galliette, Greg

Gates, Belinda

Gaukel, Kirsty

Gentner, Kat

Gilderbloom, John

Gimmel, Emily

Green, Jackie

Griggs, Stacy

Haire, Darrell

Hart, Ed

Havens, Sara

Haygood, Glenn

Haynie, Hugh

Hebert, Mark

Hettinger, Wayne

Heuser, Chip

Holland, Gil

Holliday, Darrell

Inman, David

James, David

Jones, David Jr.

Kaelin, Brigid

Kandle, Kirk

Kaplan, C.D.

Kimel, Kris

Koons-MdGee, Tim

Laird, Tim

Lamas, Anthony

Lefkoe, Adam

Lubbers, Bernie

McCarthy, Brendan

McDonnell, Dan

McKnight, J.K.

Miller, Ashley

Miller, Corky

Miller, Jerry

Minnick, Fred

Muhammad, Larry

Nation, John

Paradis, Steve

Putney, Mose

Redman, Rick

Rhodes, Ben

Rogers, Darren

Schimmel, Shoni

Schmitt, Karl

Servo, Stacey

Sirchio, Kris

Smith, Ted

Sokoler, Bob

Tandy, Cyndy

Trusty, Taylor

Walczak, John

Walls, Kristen

Waters, Les

Weis, Nick

Wesslund, Debbie

White, Stephanie

Williams, Tom

Williamson, Diane

Wilson, Dick

Wiser, Steve

Witten, John

Yankeelov, Dawn

Yarmuth, Aaron

Yarmuth, John

Ye, Dr. Hong

Yunker, Mollie

Zickuhr, Marianne

Zirnheld, Craig

RustyBookProp

Cards Are All Moved in to ACC, and the Going is Getting Tougher Sunday, Jun 1 2014 

The Louisville Cardinals are just starting to get comfortable in their new Atlantic Coast Conference digs.  The movers have come and gone, and Rick Pitino and Bobby Petrino are giving instructions to the decorators. Things are nicer here, but it’s going to be a lot more work to make everything nice.

This week, the Cards’ new league unveiled a new branding video featuring stars and images from the 15-team league, including this image of Rick Pitino. The football schedule features familiar names once considered a rank above Louisville in the NCAA pecking order — Miami, Florida State, North Carolina, Duke — along with more familiar foes in Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

Along with the shiny and new logos in the league’s update branding, the ACC means big-time. It’s likely EVERY U of L football and basketball contest will have a betting line.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 8.54.43 AM

Before long, the preseason football guides will hit newsstands, and already there’s a “way too early” Top 25 that includes  Florida State at #1. North Carolina (17) and Clemson (18) are in it, and Notre Dame, also on the U of L football schedule this year, is at #23.

Early on, the Cards aren’t getting a lot of respect, which is the way Bobby Petrino likes it. MyTopSportsBooks.com puts the Cards at 4th in the Atlantic Division, behind Florida State, Clemson and Syracuse. Simply winning more games than they lose will be considered a success in 2014, as opposed to expectations last year of an undefeated season.

Louisville will have opportunities to prove itself on the field, but most experts think the Cards will do well to nab the ACC’s 3rd or 4th best bowl tie-in, possibly the Sun Bowl.  There’s no doubt that U of L’s entrance into the league offers plenty of prestige to its new competition.

“With the recent expansion of our league and the addition of Louisville on July 1, it seemed a natural time to update our brand,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a news release. “We feel that it well represents the high standard and values the ACC has held for more than 61 years.”

 

 

The Zoo Ranks 12th, and We’re Inside 100 Days to Kickoff Saturday, May 24 2014 

Don’t miss my conversation with Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak on the Rusty Satellite Show (also featuring graphic facilitator Kat Gentner). While I was at the Zoo Tuesday, I took this photo of John in front of an animatronic bug. We also discussed, outside the interview, how the Zoo overcame the bad public relations from the 2009 train derailment. Walczak explained the thorough safety precautions now in place.

rs48JohnWalczak

John Walczak, director of the Louisville Zoo, which finished 12th nationally among zoos in a contest.

Originally we had planned to do the interview to promote the Zoo’s participating in a USA Today contest in which online voters selected the best Zoo in the country. The results just came out, and Louisville’s was 12th in the voting. Top zoos were in Toledo, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Memphis and Columbus. Which, really, just means those cities have the most active online voters.

This may be a stretch for a segue, but unless you listen constantly to sports talk radio, you may not realize it’s less than 100 days until the University of Miami invades Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for Louisville’s first game in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Bettors may look to sites like MyTopSportsbooks.com for a line on the game, but I suspect the Cards will be favored, given their 36-9 whipping of the ‘Canes in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

This week the ACC announced kickoff times for five U of L games, including the Monday night opener with Miami, which will air on ESPN at 8 p.m.  The Murray State game that Saturday night starts at 7. And let’s hope the Thursday, Oct. 30 home game with Florida State will garner national interest when it kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

From Any Angle, this Derby was Tremendous Sunday, May 4 2014 

From the Red Carpet, to Millionaire’s Row, to the Paddock, to the Grandstand, to the brand new terrace above the Starting Gate, this was a Derby for which there are not enough superlatives.

No, we didn’t have the 5-17 exacta, because as always there’s a horse that crashes the party (Commanding Curve, really?).  The favorite proved worthy of its hype. My favorite part of that story is the interview I heard on the radio going over, in which I learned that the DAP on the jockey’s silk was an acronym for Dumb Ass Partners.

How cool is that? Well, how cool were the three dudes from Atlanta, or the nice couple from Austin, or those blokes from New Zealand, or seeing Pat Day spending the day meeting fans, or seeing jockeys walk over to their mounts in the Paddock, or that lady’s toilet-themed hat, or having the best live view of the race in my lifetime, or reeling off correct answers to Derby Trivia at my son’s after-party, or even watching bad Karaoke at Check’s Cafe with a cheeseburger to end the evening.

Check it all out here, plus my amateur video of the big race.

Saying hello to the 1992 winner on Lil E. Tee, my favorite, Pat Day Commode-theme Dudes from Atlanta All the way from Austin Happy Red Hat Lady The Before Picture- California Chrome New Zealanders. A long trip Intense focus And They're Off Chrome takes command at the head of the stretch Nobody had this Jockeys descend into the Paddock Afterwards, it's a rush to go These photos brought to you by Paula, ace photographer We must be on the Front Row

 

Oaks, Derby is More than a Double Friday, May 2 2014 

Happy Oaks Day!

Have you heard any of your friends complain about being worn out from partying? How many times have you heard that Happy song this week? Not getting any work done? Decide to get up for Dawn at the Downs at 5?

It’s nothing unusual around here. My week has consisted of Bed Race, Parade Preview Party, Boat Race, Parade and now the home stretch at Churchill with Oaks and Derby.

If there were a Derby Festival Bucket List, I knocked a big one off the list Wednesday by riding on the Belle of Cincinnati during the Boat Race. We lost to the Louisville boat, but truth is our captain felt sorry for them since they couldn’t lose on their 100th anniversary.

Meanwhile, note that the Derby-themed Rusty Satellite Show is a good one. Tune in to hear about hosting parties from America’s CEO Tim Laird, and then hear from Jockeys Guild rep Darrell Haire about the life of a jockey during Derby Week.

Oh, my Derby pick. I’m betting a 10-14 exacta because I have to bet 10 every year since my son picked Giacomo and I refused to bet it. And Paula just picked the number. It’s Medal Count, which has local connections. There’s also good reason to choose the 7, We Miss Artie, in honor of Rusty guest Dick Wilson’s wife and it’s the number I won big on in 1992 with Lil E. Tee. Despite what Churchill’s Darren Rogers told me, I’m throwing out the favorite, California Chrome. And I’ve got this hunch on Wicked Strong.

These reasons are as good as yours for choosing a horse. Pick one, root hard, and celebrate either way with a Mint Julep.

LISTEN TO THE RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW HERE.

rs45DarrellHaire rs45TimLaird

The view from the Belle of Cincinnati Big Four Bridge Fans Pegasus required a pickup Pegasus is on board Then, it's all about winning this Look, our new logo

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