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Sports in Kentucky

We all loved it


You can reach Bob Watkins at  sprtsinky@aol.com

You can reach Bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com

50-to-1 shot ridden by a little dude from Catahoula, Louisiana, who looks like a hot walker, talks like a cajun and reacted to his double-dip weekend like a kid at Christmas instead of a 43-year-old who’s saddled up for 25 years.

We loved it, too, for Calvin Borel. Particularly those few with a ticket on Mine That Bird, paying $103.20 on a two-dollar win bet.

Derby 135 exposed again the experts, too. One wrote Mine That Bird would not win because “no horse from New Mexico has ever won the Derby.”

Such logic taken seriously, means any promising three-yearold from here to Dubai where sand grows, might as well stay home.

That ex-rodeo rider turned trainer Chip Woolley drove 16 hours to Louisville and hired Borel to ride, we are delighted too because Saturday’s run for the roses was another blend of ride, rider and divine providence coming together at about the 16th pole.

That’s where Borel kept to the rail while a threesome ahead began

what they believed was their

charge to the finish. Instead, Borel tapped Mine That Bird into afterburn … the race was over and the Borel Show began.

The animative little jockey, who took Rachel Alexandra to a yoke of flowers in the Oaks the day before, turned photographer’s delight. Borel waved his helmet, shouted and gestured his way to the winner’s circle.

We loved it … for a big-heart horse that was stunning at a mile and a quarter.

We loved it for a savvy jockey who knew his mount, where to be and when.

And we loved it for every bettor who had nerve to buy a ticket on the hoss in post position eight.

The Captain’s List

Imagine a mahogany plaque with bronze plate and images at the top of Captain Richard Phillips on bridge of a ship and Captain Chesley Sullenberger on bridge of a jet liner. Space below to engrave names of those in Kentucky sports who inspire, pay it forward.

A Captains List for Kentucky.

Were it reality, this week I would put these names up:

• Cindy Birrell, Princeton. A cancer survivor, she completed the 6.5-mile Kentucky Derby mini-marathon in Louisville April 25. One year ago almost to the day, Birrell was undergoing intensive treatments at Vanderbilt Hospital for Stage 4 melanoma. Today, she is diagnosed cancer free.

Her six-and-half mile run is an inspiration of courage to fight back, never give up.

Her effort moved one newspaper columnist to write, “… (this) is remarkable in anybody’s book. Especially her dad’s.”

Cindy Hutcheson-Birrell is

daughter of Princeton Times-

Leader publisher-columnist Chip Hutcheson.

• Jasmine Hall, Phelps High School and Will Barnes of Caldwell County were honored for outstanding sportsmanship in Kentucky. Got them a $3,000 college scholarship and $200 for books each from the Forcht Group of Kentucky.

Criteria? Grade point average, leadership at school and community and letters of recommendation. Reward for pursuit of higher goals while enjoying sports.

Footnote: These qualifications should apply to candidates for Mr. and Miss Basketball, Football and the rest.

The Captains List — Cindy Birrell, Jasmine Hall and Will Barnes.

COMMENT: If you have a nominee for The Captains List, email bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com

Questions & Answers

Q. “… what do you mean by University of Kentucky-at- Euclid? Those who live in western Kentucky, sometimes find ourselves unfamiliar with Lexington lingo. Is Euclid a street or something?”

Answer: Euclid Avenue, or, Avenue of Champions, runs through the UK campus. One side of Euclid features classroom buildings, the Library, College of Agriculture, Albert B. Chandler Medical Center and other sanctuaries of academic endeavor. On Euclid’s opposite flank — Memorial Coliseum, the Craft Center, Wildcat Lodge and administrative offices for athletics.

President Lee Todd and others are fond of saying UK basketball pays its own way. Is separate. His point is affirmed by the university’s budget process. Professors, instructors and staff are in pay freeze, student tuition is up 14 per cent in three years and UK faces another fiscal shortfall in our nation’s most trying economic time since the Great Depression.

The other side of Euclid Avenue? Ex-ball coach Billy Clyde Gillispie may cost University of Kentucky-at-Euclid $6 million. John Calipari will cost 31 million over eight years. His assistants, six figure pay each. And, starting with a $50,000 bonus for the head coach, the assistants may receive five-figure bonuses if 50 per cent of scholarship players earn a degree.

What’s wrong with this picture? Todd’s brag about basketball’s separateness and common sense, makes it clear there are two universities at UK. One educates young people, although the gap between who can afford UK and can’t, widens. And, University of Kentucky-at-Euclid is a farm for NBA prospects.

Postscript. The explanation brought another e-mail that read in part,”… now I don’t feel so stupid about the REAL geography of Lexington.”

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