COURTESY OF CHURCHILL DOWNS
Although Empire City Casino’s Kentucky Derby Day and fancy hat contest are local traditions, this year’s Derby-related activities have the added appeal of a hometown favorite: Upstart, a Bedford-bred horse, will try to bring home a Derby win for New York for the first time in more than a decade.
The three-year-old Upstart, owned by Ralph Evans and bred by Sunnyfield Farms Owner Joanne Nielsen, has a solid record, with a career total of seven starts: three first-place finishes, three seconds, and one third.
The first New York horse to win the Kentucky Derby was Funny Cide in 2003. Since then, no New York horse has made it to the top of this crème de la crème of horse races. Upstart, who won the Holy Bull and was a runner-up in the Florida Derby, has been given 15-1 odds—not impossible, certainly, but he’ll need a bit of luck to pull out a win. Coincidentally, his foalhood nickname was “Lucky;” he was born on April, 13, 2012—a lucky Friday the 13th. And given that only 20 thoroughbreds make it to the Kentucky Derby out of the approximately 30,000 that are born yearly, one could argue luck has always been on Upstart’s side.
It’s not every year New Yorkers get to see a hometown contestant in the Kentucky Derby, so be sure to tune in and root for Upstart. Coverage starts at 4 pm on Friday on NBC.