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As thousands flock to Louisville for the running of the Kentucky Derby, transforming the city into “Party Central,” all is not as it seems in this pastoral setting. Beneath the wealth and glamour, horse racing has a dark side – a much darker side.
Amid the traditions and pageantry, old secrets brew, jealousy and obsessions the norm: gaming, stud fees, insurance fraud and the whisper of race outcomes being fixed lie just below the surface of the fancy hats and linen suits. The unexpected death of a champion horse, a nasty spill for a top jockey and the disappearance of a barn manager – a series of tragic events or too many “accidents” to be mere coincidence? With millions of dollars on the line, owners, trainers, the wealthy, the famous and the infamous gather at Churchill Downs’ “Millionaires’ Row” to enjoy a Mint Julep or two and a bird’s eye view of the race.
Today’s Derby will make or break many and where greed, ambition and revenge often share a saddle, some may be driven to commit unspeakable acts. Odds are all in favor someone will finish last, dead last…
Lee Oates, Kentucky Horse Chow Company Representative(M/F): The Kentucky Horse Chow Company is a long standing sponsor of the Derby and your host at today’s Millionaire’s Row Pre-Derby luncheon. Please enjoy the traditional foods and drink of the Derby and remember the company tag line, “It might not be better than what you’re feeding your horse right now, but it’s no worse!”
Dr. Doolyttle, Track Veterinarian (M/F): On contract to Churchill Downs, Dr. Doolyttle has become a fixture at the Kentucky Oaks and Derby races. Any question of an animal’s fitness to run or suspected “doping” are decided by this track vet.
Zach Buys (M/F): Left a career as a brilliant mathematician working for the government to turn his natural genius to more lucrative opportunities…
Randy Johnson(M): Owner of Flag’s Up Stud Farm and owner of the sire of Derby hopeful, Goldie Locks. Johnson was once a jockey himself, but chose to leave the sport at the top of his game. He has invested everything he ever earned into this small stud farm in California. If Goldie Locks can at least place today, Johnson will be set for life.
Running: Colonel Smythe
Bobby Filet(M): Filet was a rebellious youth who channeled his hostile energies into an art form in the kitchen. Working his way up through the tough restaurant business of Brooklyn, New York, he has become one of the most successful TV chefs in the history of food television. He met his wife, Scarlett Wellbourne (daughter of legendary Kentucky horse breeder, Colonel Robert Lee Wellbourne), on Derby Day two years past. Though an unlikely match, the two are celebrating their first year of marriage today and by all reports are the most happy of couples.
Scarlett Wellbourne-Filet(F): Daughter of legendary horse breeder Colonel Robert Lee Wellbourne and current owner of the world-renowned Kentucky Thoroughbred farm, Tidewater. Settled in the 1700’s by the Wellbournes of Tidewater Virginia, the property has remained in the family for over 200 years. Scarlett’s Great-Great-Great Uncle, Capt. Rhett Wellbourne, returned from the Civil War and began breeding horses to sell to the US Calvary. Tidewater’s pedigrees are of undeniable quality and substance and have produced a number of Derby contenders and winners.
Willy Fahl: Long-time jockey for Tidewater Farms, he has met with a number of mishaps of late and has been replaced by Sparky Shorts.
Sparky Shorts(M): Number two jockey for Tidewater Farms. Always running the lesser races, he is second to Willy Fahl in every way: earnings, fame, women. Today’s Derby just might be his big break…
Sunny Skies Stables
Running: Grace and Virtue
Owner/Trainer Mick Mulligan(M): One of the most winning jockeys in the history of the sport. He was arrested for his role in a horse-doping ring – a charge he has adamantly claimed to be innocent of. Upon conviction, his jockey license was revoked and he was banned from “the field” for life. Upon completing his five year prison term, he learned he had inherited the stable, training facilities and all of the horses from, Green R. Pastures, the owner he once rode for. He has been allowed a conditional trainer’s license and will be running Grace and Virtue in today’s Derby.
Ace Handover(M): Jockey for Grace and Virtue and cousin of the deceased Green R. Pastures. A provision in Pastures’ will gives him 75% of each purse he wins on any horse he rides from Sunny Skies Stables as well as first choice as to which races he will ride. The remaining winnings are the property of Mick Mulligan, however the small percentage is barely enough to support the farm.
Sugar Kane(F): Grand-Niece of the late, Green R. Pastures, owner of Sunny Skies Stables. Upon the death of her uncle, ownership of the horses was transferred to Mick Mulligan. However, she inherited the breeding rights and the ancestral home located at the heart of the property.