At Churchill Downs yesterday, Derby fever was already starting to peak as the Oaks was run before a capacity crowd of 100,000, in pouring rain. As the ladies gave sneak previews of their fabulous hats under umbrellas, ten fillies took on the sloppy track, with Proud Spell romping home in front.
The media are working overtime to pump that feverish interest in Big Brown. As more punters opt to bet from home via interactive services, the idea is to lure them back to the track by alleging that a new Secretariat has come along. There's no substitute for seeing a great horse live. The real Secretariat was such an American folk hero that 100,000 people turned out for his farewell appearance in 1973, just to see him cantered in front of the grandstand one last time. It was said that Secretariat could have run for President and won. (Where is he now that the Democratic Party needs him?)
In a few more hours, with a track that's dried out and fast, Big Brown will have his chance to show us what he's got. -- Patricia Nell Warren