They call the Kentucky Derby the most exciting two minutes in sports, but it also contains the most bizarre, fascinating and harrowing millisecond—the moment the steel starting gates pop open and release 20 half-mad, inexperienced thoroughbreds that zoom to 30 miles per hour in just a couple of strides. Add up to this thousand of fans routing for their favorites as well as bettors hoping for their Kentucky Derby betting to win.
As jockeys use all their strength to hold their horses' manes, they're given about 30 seconds to make some of the race's most important, and delicate, tactical moves. Unless they maneuver to the track's "sweet spot" on the inside among the top five or so horses, history suggests they've already lost. Saturday's Derby, like most modern versions of the race, will be a highly combustible affair. The pressure that comes with the big crowd at Louisville's Churchill Downs, the huge TV audience and the $2.1 million prize is amplified by the number of horses in the field. With 20-odd entries, the Derby is more than twice the size of an average thoroughbred race
What's more, the 3-year-old Derby horses are unaccustomed to the 1¼-mile distance and the size and raucousness of the crowd. By the time the gates open, some of the horses will have been waiting for two minutes—enough time to go nuts.
To prepare for the chaos, some trainers and jockeys watch video of other horses to study tendencies. Kent Desormeaux, a jockey who has won three times at the Derby, says he uses the colors the jockeys will be wearing to help him navigate at the start. "I memorize the colors so I can find those colors and know where I should be in relation to those colors," he says.
In the past, horse owners were allowed to pick gate positions in an order determined by a drawing. Since last year, assignments have been made at random, eliminating the strategy and opening the door for even more dyspepsia. The only way to win the Derby is to have "the best day in your life," says trainer Carl Nafzger, who won in 1990 with Unbridled and in 2007 with Street Sense. "The start is crucial."
And this is a glimpse of what really happens during Kentucky Derby day. Madness at its best as the greatest two minutes of sports happens. Make sure to be a part of this prestigious event. Make your Kentucky Derby betting now and take part of the event!