Kentucky Derby

Humans get in way of history

What I know: If Big Brown wins the Belmont on Saturday, it will end a 30-year Triple Crown drought.

What I think: Like most who follow horse racing casually, I'd love to see another Triple Crown winner — but not Saturday.

The human connections around Big Brown leave me cold.

The Wall Street types who constitute the majority ownership of Big Brown seem about as appealing as stubborn belly fat.

Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.'s smack-talking motor mouth doesn't bother me. In fact, other than the unnecessary calling out of the Smarty Jones crew for their failure in the 2004 Belmont, I've sort of enjoyed Dutrow's Triple Crown trash talk.

What I can't escape is the feeling that rooting for Dutrow is the horse-racing equivalent of pulling for Jerry Tarkanian, long the college basketball symbol of rule-book flouting.

The Baltimore Sun pointed out before the Preakness that Dutrow has either been fined or suspended for doping horses at least once in each of the past eight years.

(He's hardly alone at the top level of horse racing. Prominent trainers Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen both have served suspensions related to doping in recent years.)

Though Dutrow says that he gives each horse in his barn, including Big Brown, an anabolic steroid (Winstrol) once a month, he won't do so this month. Not that steroids are against the rules in any of the Triple Crown-race states.

But if you clamored for an asterisk to be attached to the baseball records of Barry Bonds, how can you feel good if Big Brown wears the Triple Crown?

Across the years, I've rooted for Spectacular Bid, Pleasant Colony, Alysheba, Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide and Smarty Jones in their bids to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed.

On Saturday, the Big Brown bandwagon will roll without me.

What I know: Kio Sanford, the former University of Kentucky standout wide receiver and current Lexington policeman, is battling a rare form of cancer.

What I think: Just when you think that the most popular UK sports Internet message boards have completely given over to angry paranoia, along comes something uplifting.

Nathan Burns, a Murfreesboro, Tenn., real estate agent, is a big Kentucky Wildcats fan and a frequent poster (with the sig of bradyjames) on The Cats' Pause message boards.

After reading my May 24 column about Sanford's struggle to survive both Ewing's sarcoma and the potent chemotherapy needed to beat it, Burns felt moved to action.

He is challenging 500 of his fellow UK fans to contribute $20 each toward a goal of $10,000 for a scholarship fund for Sanford's 7-year-old daughter, Cami.

”I read the story and got to thinking about Kio and his situation,“ said Burns, 31, the father of 4-year-old twins. ”I remembered all the enjoyment he gave as a player. I just thought if I was in his situation and people could remove having to worry about sending your daughter to college, it would be a huge thing off my mind.“

If you'd like to donate, send your check to: The Cami Chapman College Fund, c/o Metro Employees Credit Union, 1306 Versailles Road, Suite 140, Lexington, Ky., 40504.

What I know: NASCAR Public Enemy No. 1 — and emerging superstar — Kyle Busch is expected to race in the Nationwide (formerly Busch) Series race at Kentucky Speedway on June 14.

What I think: In Kentucky, Busch might reduce some of the hearty booing he takes everywhere he goes with his remarks this week on a teleconference about the prospect of a Cup race coming to the commonwealth.

”Well, I think it's a good place,“ Busch said of Kentucky Speedway. ”The track, it got rough, then they ground it, it got rough again, I think they ground it again. It's getting pretty thin. There are a lot of water issues that I hear are coming through the racetrack surface, stuff like that.

”Besides that, I think it's a fun racetrack. It's a great racetrack. I think the fans around there are pretty great. They always seem to fill up the track in the Nationwide and truck series racing.“

What I know: As you read this, it is two years to the day since Roger Clemens took the mound at Applebee's Park for the Lexington Legends.

What I think: Lexington might never have a night as special as that again. Clemens almost certainly will not.

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