Tuesday, April 8, 2008


by Kit Ehrman

I spent the afternoon in Louisville today. The magnolias, daffodils, and tulips were in bloom, and naturally, my thoughts turned to the Kentucky Derby. As hard as it is for me to believe, the big race is only twenty-five days and counting.

Time flies.

Statue of Aristides, winner of the first Kentucky Derby.

Considering the fact that my latest mystery, TRIPLE CROSS, is set in Louisville for the running of the Kentucky Derby, you’d think that I’d be a huge horseracing fan when, in fact, I’m not.

I am most definitely drawn to racing, but this is solely a byproduct of my love of the horse, and I have to admit, after Barbaro, my feelings about horseracing are even more conflicted.

Racing is hard on horses, but so are all the equine sports at the upper levels. Let’s face it; as soon as humans are thrown into the mix, our natural competitiveness (and sometimes, greed) causes us to push our horses. So, it’s up to us to do the best job we can to ensure their safety and continued health.

Some will be critical of how we “use” horses, but the truth of the matter is: many of the top equine athletes love what they do.

What happened to Barbaro was tragic, and it broke my heart. But it was an accident. I have admired Barbaro’s trainer, Michael Matz, for decades, having become familiar with him as he competed on the Grand Prix circuit, rode in the Olympics, and later, saved several children when Flight 232 went down in an Iowa cornfield. He is a horseman in the truest sense of the word.

Michele brought up the topic of equine movies in an earlier post. If you haven’t heard about it yet, THE FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY, an independent documentary about the 2006 Kentucky Derby, filmed and produced by two brothers, will be released nationwide later this month, on April 18th. Here’s a clip from the movie:

Banner 2 Banner 1 go!

To learn more about THE FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY, visit: http://www.thefirstsaturdayinmay.com/

I found this wonderful clip on YouTube (from the movie) of Michael Matz introducing Barbaro to his son. It's very sweet and really highlights Matz's temperament and horsemanship. Click here.

So, while I'm not a big racing fan, this excerpt from TRIPLE CROSS, sums up how I (and Steve) feel about racehorses:

There’s something about being on the backside of a racetrack just before dawn that is truly magical--standing along the rail when the light’s just coming up, watching the horses move fluidly across the damp earth, their dark shapes silhouetted against a rainbow sky. You stand there, breathing in the clean air, listening to the steady primal rhythm of a galloping horse, and the rest of the world simply does not exist.



Unknown said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the documentary. It's not coming anywhere near me here in New England, but I remembered that I'll be in near Lexington toward the end of the month. Maybe I'll get to catch it at the Kentucky Theater there.

Jan Scarbrough said...

Hi, Kit, thanks for sharing the trailers. You might be interested in seeing what I wrote in my blog yesterday about horses. http://sisterwriters.blogspot.com/

Also, I'm volunteering for a fund raiser for the Luci Center, a therapeutic riding facility. Guess where the fund raiser is? Backside of Churchill Downs at 5 a.m. on Monday before Derby! I'm like you. I love horses.

Kit Ehrman said...

You're welcome, Rhonda. For anyone looking for a theatre where the movie will be playing, check out http://www.thefirstsaturdayinmay.com/2008/03/11/opening-in-a-city-near-you/. Also, 25% of the box office from the openng week will be donated to the worldwide leader in equine research: The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. Good luck getting to see it!


Kit Ehrman said...

Dear Jan,

Thank "you" for volunteering for the Luci Center Therapeutic Riding Facility. You'll love being on the backside, especially during Derby week.

I'll be chedking out your blog in the a.m.

Jami Davenport said...


I enjoyed your post and understand your conflicted feelings regarding horse racing. Thanks for posting the trailers.