Dutrow's checkered past follows him to Derby spotlight
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- In some barns on the backside of Churchill Downs, they believe in the Derby gods.Horsemen will tell you with conviction that the Kentucky Derby is so special it can be won only by good people. They'll tell you the Derby gods keep it that way -- mystically blocking black-hearted owners and malevolent trainers from reaching racing heaven, no matter how talented their horses. I know at least one Derby-winning trainer and one Derby-winning owner who earnestly buy into the concept. They point out Frances Genter, the little old lady who won the 1990 Derby with Unbridled. They refer to the Sackatoga Six, a group of regular Joes who hit it rich with Funny Cide. They cite gentlemanly Bob Lewis, owner of Silver Charm and Charismatic, and the unpretentious connections of Smarty Jones. It's hard to believe that in 133 runnings, a few rogues haven't slipped past the Derby gods and into the ultimate winner's circle. But if the believers are right, you have to wonder what the gods are thinking about the man who will saddle morning-line favorite Big Brown on Saturday, trainer Rick Dutrow. Dutrow has used illicit drugs, on himself and on his horses, and has been suspended for both on multiple occasions. He has come to the cathedral of racing this week with immense pride and a dearth of humility. He has wagered outrageous sums on his animals and bragged about the victories.
...The only thing I need is to be allowed to work around the horses, so when they give me back my license after a suspension, man, I'm good to go. And even when I'm on my suspension, I'm going to try and sneak in there and look at my horses. What am I going to tell you, man? I'm a horseman.
Derby on Mike and Mike
Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic preview the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs with Kenny Mayne, Brent Musburger and horse racing analyst Randy Moss. Podcast
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.