Every time I go to see the Kentucky Derby, which hasn't been very many times, I am blown away by the crowd and the energy.
Having spent most Derby days taking mares to the breeding shed or watching on the farm, it was inspiring to see racing fans out in force on a rainy day and it made me just want to get back to the farm and go to work trying to raise a good horse.
I would have been happy to see many of the entrants win this year’s Kentucky Derby because so many good people were involved with so many different horses, but I really was fired up when Orb won the race. Shug McGaughey has been one of the hardest working horsemen in the industry for a long time and to see him win with a horse for the Phippses and Janneys was wonderful. The Phipps and Janney families have dedicated a great deal to Thoroughbred racing and it is great to see them have such a great horse like Orb.
The Derby means everything to the state of Kentucky and to all the men and women who commit themselves to the Thoroughbred industry.
Congratulations to everyone who worked to get Orb to the winner’s circle, especially the men and women of Claiborne Farm. They do such a wonderful job and put a lot of love and pride into their work. It is always fascinating to consider how many times Orb's feet have been trimmed by a blacksmith, how many times his stall has been cleaned, how many times he has taken a van ride, how many miles he has been hand-walked. Each individual interaction that a human has had with Orb has no doubt played a role in making him the horse that he is today. Every day matters when working on a horse farm or at the track.
Orb remembers, and I am sure he knows he has just won a very important race.
The Preakness will be here this weekend, and I hope that Orb will run well and set himself up for an opportunity to win the Triple Crown. I always love seeing a great horse emerge and once again inspire the hearts of the American people.
He will have tough competition, however, and it will be especially interesting to see Departing and Orb in the same race because they were both raised in the same field on Claiborne Farm. There were 25,808 foals born in 2010 and two of them who grew up together on a piece of Bourbon County pasture are expected to run against each this weekend. Luck has a lot to do with it, but I have to think the folks down at Claiborne have got to know a thing or two.
The Preakness will be a very exciting race, and Pimlico has set the stage for a great weekend with Infield Fest. There will be live music on both Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness day featuring the Goo Goo Dolls, Rodney Atkins, Pitbull, Afrojack, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. (www.preakness.com/infield/infieldfest)
I don't listen to the radio or watch television very much, so I felt pretty out of touch when I had no idea who most of the folks playing Infield Fest are - the life of a banjo player I guess. … It is great to see Pimlico putting on a festival in coordination with the biggest day in Maryland racing. What could be better than watching the races and seeing live music?
The last couple of months have flown by for me, and, until this last weekend, I had only had four days in Kentucky since my first post.
I spent most of my time in Asheville, N.C., where I discovered a lot of music and a lot of great people. I was lucky to get to go to Merle Fest (www.merlefest.org) in Wilkesboro, and I would encourage anyone who loves music to get down to North Carolina next year for a great festival. If you are ever in Asheville on a Tuesday night you should all check out Tuesday Night Bluegrass Sessions at the Isis.
The Isis (www.isisasheville.com) is a new venue and has an open stage on Tuesdays where you can watch and play with members of great bands such as Town Mountain and Steep Canyon Rangers all for free. A big thanks to the boys in Town Mountain (www.townmountain.net) for giving me a place to stay and for showing me around Asheville.
I also want to thank all those at Keeneland who worked to bring live Bluegrass music to the Hill tailgating area. Thanks to America's Best Racing for supporting the event on Blue Grass Stakes day, and I think the future of music at Keeneland is bright. It was exciting for me to unite the two passions I have in life all in one day. The music at Keeneland was in support of the upcoming Festival of the Bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park on June 6-9 (www.festivalofthebluegrass.com).
I mentioned the Festival of the Bluegrass in my first post, and I can't wait for the music. If you come out to the Horse Park look for my RV near the stage and come tell horse stories and maybe even pick a little Bluegrass music with me. I will be playing down at Willie's Locally Known in Lexington, Ky., on May 23 with Tyler Childers and The Highwall along with Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen (www.dirtykitchenband.com) and then on Red Barn Radio (www.redbarnradio.com) on Wednesday, May 29. I have to throw a little shameless self-promotion on here once and a while, don't I?
I was really happy to get home to Paris, Ky., and Clay's Steakhouse last Thursday to play some music with my dad. There is nothing like making music with a family member and the first ever Bourbon County Homegrown Derby Celebration was a real treat.
SON AND FATHER
The fact that five Derby starters were raised within five miles of each other in Bourbon County is amazing, and to have celebrated it all together with some Bluegrass music was special. Thanks to Town Mountain for playing for everyone in Paris, and I look forward to doing it again next year.
If you are a horse racing fan and have yet to go to see racing at Keeneland, or if you've never made plans to see a Triple Crown race live, I would recommend that you get to it. There is nothing like live racing.
If you are in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland area you might witness something special if Orb can pull off a win in the Preakness. You definitely have an opportunity to see some rocking music in the infield.
The Derby has left me bubbling with Kentucky Pride so I've got some good songs to turn on if you’re ever in the Bluegrass State and the sun is shining and the windows are down. "Eight More Miles to Louisville," by Sam Bush; "Kentucky," by The Louvin Brothers; "Kentucky Waltz," by Bill Monroe; "Kentucky Means Paradise," by Glen Campbell; and "Paradise," by John Prine.
Thanks for hanging and until next time … onwards and upwards.
HANCOCK HAVING FUN ON STAGE