Saturday, May 7, 2011

At the Kentucky Derby, sport is purer on four legs

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You say you're tired of picking up the sports page and reading about bad behavior? Court reports, public scandals and inflated egos leave you cold?

  • Horses wait to enter the track during the morning exercise session in preparation for the 137th Kentucky Derby.

    By Al Bello, Getty Images

    Horses wait to enter the track during the morning exercise session in preparation for the 137th Kentucky Derby.

By Al Bello, Getty Images

Horses wait to enter the track during the morning exercise session in preparation for the 137th Kentucky Derby.

Good news. The 137th Kentucky Derby is Saturday, and none of the athletes doing the running have a police record or shoddy reputation. Then again, they're only 3 years old.

It's not just the long tradition of the day. By the way, there were 92 Kentucky Derbys before there was one Super Bowl. And it hasn't been expanded for more commercials. Still goes two minutes and change, or less than an NCAA Tournament TV timeout.

It's also the one sporting event where you can be pretty sure none of the competitors will be caught by the television cameras using foul language. At least the four-legged competitors. No trash talking, either. Indeed, they've all been able to stay away from unflattering off-the-track headlines.

If only the Fiesta Bowl was able to say that.

Take Uncle Mo, one of the favorites and owned by a guy from New York City who made a gazillion dollars on vitaminwater and can afford to buy winners. But you never saw Uncle Mo going on ESPN to announce he was taking his talents to Repole Stable.

Twice the Appeal has never sold merchandise to get favors from a local tattoo parlor. Matter of fact, he doesn't even have any tattoos.

Comma to the Top had to take a 4 a.m. flight to get to Louisville this week, and he didn't go ballistic on his travel agent.

Mucho Macho Man sounds like a real stud, but he has never been known to get into a domestic dispute with any of the girl horses.

Unlike several noted college coaches, Pants on Fire is not a liar, no matter how the old saying goes. He gives an honest day's work for an honest day's bucket of oats, which is just as well because his trainer noted the other day how a horse can lose 100 pounds during a race. Eat your heart out, Jenny Craig.

Stay Thirsty has apparently remained true to his name, because he's never been picked up on a DUI charge.

Midnight Interlude has never missed curfew.

Watch Me Go has never gotten unhappy about his playing time and demanded a trade.

Archarcharch drew the No. 1 post position, which is like having to make your way through the Charge of the Light Brigade. But when he got the news, he threw no temper tantrums and did not accuse anyone of conspiracy.

Dialed In, the early betting favorite, has never gotten into trouble with a cellphone and sent thoughtless tweets about the other horses.

Master of Hounds comes from Ireland and is totally against all forms of dogfighting.

Brilliant Speed was not named in the BALCO investigation.

Decisive Moment's mother, Lady Samira, has never been charged with assaulting a valet parking attendant.

Animal Kingdom has never been fined or suspended for slurs against any species over sexual preference.

Soldat never took any illegal money from boosters and his dad, War Front, never asked for any.

Twinspired and Derby Kitten seem perfectly named for Churchill Downs, and they've always been called that, unlike Chad Ochocinco.

Santiva is not being investigated by the NCAA.

Neither Nehro nor Shackleford have been involved in ugly divorces.

They all have to get up with the birds to work out, and none of them complain. Given Kentucky's recent monsoon, the track might feel like quicksand Saturday, but if the horses have a gripe about conditions, they'll keep it to themselves.

If they win Saturday, everyone else gets the money. And while athletes in other sports talk about carrying burdens, how many of them have to carry 126 pounds?

So it's refreshing. The field has been weakened by injury, but you have to like the fact nobody will go to the gate facing probation.

Oh, and one more thing. It's the one place in sporting America where there will be no talk of a lockout.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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