Among a few of these fan-favorite observances are Super Bowl Sunday, the Final Four, Opening Day in Major League Baseball and this Saturday's ‘Run for the Roses' at the 135th Kentucky Derby at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Now, let me be the first to say I am clueless when it comes to horse racing, so I won't even pretend to speak as a thoroughbred aficionado. However, I think they are beautiful animals and to see these three-year-olds at top speed during ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports' is a breathtaking sight that I hope to one day witness in person.
Much like the Super Bowl and the Final Four, the Kentucky Derby has its own unique vibe for the outside events as the race itself. From the fashion expo, to the mint juleps, to the hefty bets placed at the window, this week at Churchill Downs was one big party that climaxes with crowning of a new Derby champion and the talk of a potential Triple Crown winner.
In some instances, horse racing is like some Olympic sports such as swimming or figure skating in that it has a short-lived mass appeal. If the winner of the Kentucky Derby doesn't repeat its performance at the Preakness Stakes on May 16 in Baltimore, only those in horse racing's inner circle will care to follow the sport through to the Belmont Stakes (final leg of the Triple Crown) and for the rest of the season.
Horse racing is starving for a Triple Crown champion and we came close last year with Big Brown's heroics at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. However, his unfortunate performance at Belmont ended that dream, thus continuing our 30-year run without the sport's most coveted prize.
Once upon a time, horse racing was on the Mount Rushmore of sports in America with boxing, baseball and track. But this regional and elitist sport will never regain its previous glory until that predestined thoroughbred clinches that elusive Triple Crown title.
Alongside the Triple Crown factor, animal rights groups have increased their pressure on owners for steroid abuse and on jockeys for whipping the horse down the stretch.
It's just too bad that when we finally see a Triple Crown winner come to fruition, we can't get a quote from the horse, since he's the one who did all the work, but it's the jockey and owner getting all the praise.
Of course, of course, that would all change if it reincarnates the lost souls of Mister Ed and his loveable owner Wilbur. Now, that would be a sound bite for the ages.
Rory Sharrock is sports editor for The Rockdale News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org