Kuiper flies through the air. He is wearing a galaxy-colored racing muzzle.

The Story of the Kentucky Derby

Kuiper is off to the races! 🏎️ He says you should “bet the whole enchilada plus a taco on him at the Kentucky Derbo.” I had to remind him that gambling is strictly prohibited 🚫 in whippet racing. 🏁

Unlike greyhound racing, whippet racing in the US is 100% amateur. Racing through (non-profit) organizations like the Whippet Racing Association or the National Oval Track Racing Association is just for fun; it’s a dog sport like agility. πŸ’ΈπŸ’ΈπŸ’Έ Both Kuiper’s parents, all 4 of his grandparents, and 15 out of 16 of his great-grandparents have race champion titles (his paternal great-gma has multiple lurecoursing titles, so we’ll give her a pass.)

There’s something really cool about seeing a dog do what it was bred to do, like watching a border collie herd, or a beagle track, or being served a refreshing beverage by a St. Bernard. πŸ›’οΈ In Kuiper’s case, he was bred to scream excitedly at plastic grocery bags and pursue them with all haste. πŸ’¨ Now for some history..

Today is the 144th (consecutive!) Kentucky Derbo, a triumph of American marketing. Its first few decades didn’t even turn a profit and Churchill Downs nearly closed in 1902. A man named Matt Winn saved it. He formed a group of investors and spent the off-season pitching furiously to and buying drinks for press in NYC.

Matt pulled out all the stops in 1915, which became a big turning point for the Derbo. He upped the prize to $283k (in 2018 πŸ’΅) and persuaded businessman Harry Payne Whitney to bring his filly Regret from New Jersey. Regret was the 15th female horse to run in the Derbo. She was the first to win!πŸ†A ton of women came to watch her race, and the Louisville Herald ran the headline “Regret Gives ‘Old Man’ Tradition A Good Poke In the Nose…” 😁

Great PR for the Derbo, but the win was bittersweet for Harry. A day earlier, the passenger ship Lusitania had been torpedoed by a German U-boat, and his brother-in-law Alfred Vanderbilt (who could not swim) was missing. Later, several eyewitnesses would report that he was last seen frantically stuffing kids into lifeboats two at a time, before tying his own lifejacket onto a young woman holding a baby. Alfred was never seen again. ☹️

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BiZccp2gpL7/

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