The Kentucky Derby draws ever closer – May 5, just two and a half weeks – and we can’t wait. Las Vegas rivals the track itself as the greatest place to view the Run for the Roses. In fact, if you can’t get to the track, in our opinion this is the only place to be.
In addition to the network coverage on large screens in the sports books and various televisions throughout the casinos, there is also the live simulcast feed directly from Churchill Downs. The betting is the same as being at the track since it is part of the Churchill pari-mutuel pool. And, in Vegas you have all the wonderful amenities of the casinos.
But the greatest race of the year isn’t worth anything if you don’t have a horse to bet on, so we continue to scope out the possible starters looking for a winner.
We expect to see at least six horses vying for favoritism including, in no special order, Bodemeister, Gemologist, Union Rags, Hansen, Creative Cause and Dullahan.
However, we do take issue with the horse of a different color Dr. Kendall Hansen, owner of Hansen, keeps pushing. Last month in New York, the good doctor floated the trial balloon that he wanted to dye his 2-year-old champion blue. The stewards told him they would scratch the horse from the Gotham Stakes if he tried the stunt. It is against the rules to deliberately alter a horse’s appearance. Hansen won the race easily.
Then, this past Saturday Dr. Hansen succeeded in dying his namesake’s tail blue, which Keeneland stewards initially indicated would be allowed. However, trainer Michael Maker had other thoughts and succeeded in getting the coloring out of the colt’s tail before the Blue Grass Stakes. Hansen finished second to a fast-closing Dullahan.
Did the blue make a difference? Probably not, but all the disruption of the colt’s normal routine before a race didn’t help. And the incident seems to have caused friction between owner and trainer.
Now blue hair is nothing new. Its history goes back centuries and it has had a revival of late. In addition to the infamous Marge Simpson character, who may have actually started the current trend, such notables as Dakota Fanning, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Kate Bosworth and Lady Gaga have all sported blue locks at various times.
But Hansen is a stunning near-white colt; a champion in his own right. He doesn’t need the cheap tricks of publicity seeking models, singers and actresses to be a star.
We think Dr. Hansen should spend a little less time seeking the limelight and a little more working on race strategy with Maker. For instance, how will they run the race if Hansen should draw the dreaded one-hole on Derby day?
That’s something worth thinking about. Just ask Bob Baffert. The Hall of Fame trainer landed in that spot in 2010 with Lookin at Lucky. He may have been the best that day, but the one hole compromised his chances. That’s because the jockey must either angle out, usually into 19 horses, or take back and give the other 19 a head start. It is a darned if you do and darned if you don’t situation.
In case you don’t remember, Lookin at Lucky, now syndicated at stud, was owned by a group that included Mike Pegram. Pegram owned Real Quiet, the 1998 Kentucky Derby winner, among other champions.
He also owns Bodine’s Casino in Carson City and the Carson Valley Inn in Minden. If you are in the northern part of our state either location would be a great place to watch this year’s Derby. But don’t expect to see the likeable Pegram. He’ll probably be in Kentucky rooting on Derby contender Secret Circle who he owns a piece of.
But win or lose, you can expect to find him in the coffee shop at Carson Valley Inn the Monday after the Derby. The food is excellent and the prices are great!
GOING GREEK: We don’t think we are an expert food, critic but our dining tips seem to get the largest response (mostly good) from readers. We enjoy eating and are always on the prowl for new places or old favorites we may have missed for awhile.
Back on our radar is Peter Papas’ Yassou Greek Grill Café. The affable Papas is expanding at his 7871 West Charleston location. When the owner is also the chef, you know the food will be great. It is. Peter is enclosing his outdoor patio for more comfortable summer and winter dining. Try any of his lunch specials. You will not be disappointed.
New on our radar is the Babystacks Café. There’s one at 4135 South Buffalo Drive and another at 2400 North Buffalo Drive. It is a great breakfast and lunch spot for a fair price.
HOLMES AT HOME: We will be heading to the fabulous new Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas to see Clint Holmes as soon as possible. Holmes is a local treasure and we think he will feel right at home there. SC has venues within the venue and is a real step up as a live-performance locale offering a wide variety of entertainment.
See you around town.
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