Lucky And The Longshots At Kentucky Derby

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Saturday is the 136th Run for the Roses, better known as the Kentucky Derby. Lookin At Lucky is the 2-to-1 favorite, but there are a few other horses some are betting on. Host Scott Simon speaks to Dorothy Ours, author of Man O' War: A Legend Like Lightning.


Today is the 136th Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby. Post time at Churchill Downs in Louisville: 6:24 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. We're calling Dorothy Ours, the author of "Man O' War: A Legend Like Lightning," that tells the life story of one of the most famous colts of the 20th century. And I dont mean Johnny Unitas.

Dorothy Ours, how are you?

Ms. DOROTHY OURS (Author): Im very well, thank you. How are you today?

SIMON: Im fine, thanks. So Looking at Lucky is the two to one favorite.

Ms. OURS: Mm-hmm.

SIMON: Who else is worth a look?

Ms. OURS: Well, it partly depends on the weather because they're calling or a high chance of thunderstorms and that can change conditions very quickly. If there's a lot of water on the track, that tends to favor horses who have a running style where they like to go out fast to the front and kick back the wet stuff on the other horses.

SIMON: Is Looking at Lucky a good mudder? Aren't they called mudders?

Ms. OURS: Looking at Lucky is a little bit of a question mark. He actually has trained well on the mud at Churchill Downs these past several days. He hasnt raced in it because most of his career has been on the synthetic tracks in California. But the one time he has raced on an old fashioned dirt track, such as they have for the derby, he won and he had his best speed figure, as the handicappers like to call it.

SIMON: Any long shots that you're looking at?

Ms. OURS: Well, several, but I have to say in recent days my favorite is Stately Victor.

SIMON: He's owned, we will add, by the family of Kentucky's attorney general, Jack Conway.

Ms. OURS: Thats correct. And I was just - the other day found out that he's named for a childhood friend of Mr. Conway's who was a very dear friend who died early in a car accident.

SIMON: Oh...

Ms. OURS: So there's a - yeah, I know, it's very touching. There's usually a number of those kind stories connected with the derby. When they talk about the derby gods favoring certain people because of some sentimental reason...

SIMON: Yeah.

Ms. OURS: ...well, there's a very strong one for Stately Victor.

SIMON: Dorothy, how wise is it to do as I did, and I think a lot of people do, which is to choose your horse by name? I put my $2 down on Dublin...

Ms. OURS: Oh.

SIMON: tribute to my mother.

Ms. OURS: Well, it's - sometimes it's as good as any method.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. OURS: The first derby I ever saw, it was 1970 - I was a little child - and I saw the name Dust Commander. Thats my horse, Dust Commander, what a great name. He was 15 to one. He won the race by five lengths. You know, sometimes just that gut feeling or that - why not this name because it reminds me of my mother or something, you're sometimes lucky.

SIMON: Well, I hope for my mother and Dublin.

Ms. OURS: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Dorothy, nice talking to you.

Ms. OURS: Very nice talking to you.

SIMON: Dorothy Ours, author of "Man O' War: A Legend Like Lightning," on the 136th Kentucky Derby. Takes place today.

(Soundbite of bugle call)

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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