- Associated Press - Sunday, May 4, 2014
Video board brings race closer to Derby fans

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Looming over the Churchill Downs track, a gigantic video board making its Kentucky Derby debut Saturday gave the huge crowd a living-room view.

The horses were shown in super-sized form as the track’s newest landmark gave fans attending the 140th Derby the feeling of being up close to the colts.

The view was especially sweet for the throngs of infield fans. In past years, some of them routinely left without seeing a horse.

“It was fun to watch, I could see everything,” said Jon Simpson, who watched the video board from the infield as California Chrome pulled away to win the Derby.

Lewis Grant, of Louisville, said the old video board was “almost like looking at a smart phone” compared to the giant screen.

“That board is epic,” he said. “It’s totally changed the dynamic of the infield.”

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California Chrome breaks away for Derby win

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A horse with a humble pedigree. A couple of working stiff owners. A 77-year-old trainer with his first Kentucky Derby horse.

Even Hollywood couldn’t have made this up.

California Chrome made it look easy on Saturday, pulling away down the stretch to win the Derby by 1 3/4 lengths.

In a sport dominated by wealthy owners and regally bred horses from Kentucky’s bluegrass country, this was a victory for the little guys. Owners Perry Martin and Steve Coburn bred an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion to produce the winner of the world’s most famous race with their one-horse stable.

“This is just a dream come true and a great birthday present,’” said Coburn, who turned 61 on Saturday.

California Chrome ran 1ΒΌ miles in 2:03.66 and paid $7, $5.60 and $4.20. The chestnut colt was sent off as the 5-2 favorite by the crowd of 164,906, the second-largest in the Derby’s 140-year history.

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Wicked Strong fans give Churchill a Fenway feel

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The last time a horse meant this much for Boston, the jockey was Paul Revere.

Fans of Wicked Strong put their money behind the colt named in honor of the Boston Marathon bombing victims, making him the second choice in the 19-horse field in the 140th Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

The horse finished fourth, and by that time, the New England touches around the track were hard to miss.

Red Sox ball caps dotted the sea of fancy hats in the near-record crowd of 164,906 at Churchill Downs. And many sang along when “Sweet Caroline,” a Fenway Park staple, played on the track’s public address system.

The Boston ties even stretched to the announcer’s booth.

Track announcer Larry Collmus, who used to call races at Suffolk Downs in Boston, is a Red Sox fan and compared Churchill’s stature in horse racing to Fenway’s status in baseball.

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Stars line red carpet for Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Former figure skater Johnny Weir’s feathery white hat rose high above his head as he walked the red carpet at Churchill Downs, bringing his flair for fashion to the Kentucky Derby.

Weir, who made a fashion splash as a network host at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, joined dozens of athletes, musicians and actors getting the paparazzi treatment at the track’s annual celebrity event Saturday afternoon.

Musicians Miranda Lambert, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora and Cheryl “Salt” James from Salt-N-Pepa made appearances, along with former NBA star Scottie Pippen, the NFL’s Ndamukong Suh and retired baseball player Ken Griffey Jr.

Actress Angela Bassett, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and Marlon and Jackie Jackson from the Jackson 5 also strolled down the red carpet.

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