LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 3 (UPI) -- When Buddha was scratched from Saturday's Kentucky Derby, the net value of the race shrank by $15,000. But even with 19 starters, the $1,190,000 total purse would be a record. Starting in 1996, the Derby was the first of the Triple Crown races to offer a guaranteed purse of $1 million. That guarantee grows as the size of the field increases and entry fees are tossed into the pot. Budda's fee to start would have been $15,000.
The record purse for a Kentucky Derby was $1,888,400 in 2000, when 19 horses started.
While the Derby has been the most prestigious race in America for many years, big purses are a recent development. From 1991 through 1995, the purse was $500,000 plus the fees, or "$500,000 added" in racing parlance. As recently as 1985, the purse was only $250,000 added. When Affirmed won in 1978 on his way to becoming the most recent Triple Crown winner, the purse was but $125,000 added. Secretariat won for the same pot in 1973. In 1948, when Citation won the Derby, the purse was $100,000 added. Whirlaway ran in 1941 for a total purse of $75,000.
DAY BY DAY: Buddha's mishap almost cost jockey Pat Day a chance to ride in his 19th straight Kentucky Derby. Only another mishap--to rider Corey Nakatani--allowed Day to extend the streak.
Day had been scheduled to ride Buddha in Saturday's Derby and Nakatani was named on Blue Burner. But Nakatani was injured in a spill Thursday at Hollywood Park and, because of dizziness, begged off the trip to Louisville. Immediately, trainer Bill Mott turned to the suddenly available Day. "With the unfortunate injury to Buddha, Pat became available and, at this point, it would be a no-brainer," Mott said. "Pat and I have won a lot of races together here."
Day said he wouldn't have taken a mount away from another jockey who had been able to ride. "But if Corey's not up to riding, I'm ticked pink to have the opportunity."
Although Day has ridden in 18 consecutive Derbies, he hasn't been particularly successful. His only victory was in 1992 on Lil E Tee.
COLORFUL DERBY: For the first time in Kentucky Derby history, this year's field will carry color-coded saddle towels--an innovation designed to make it easier for handicappers and fans to identify their horse during the race. The problem: The standard system only goes through 14 horses. So Churchill Downs officials had to invent six new colors for horses carrying No. 15 through 20. The result: 15 is khaki, 16 is Copen blue, 17 is Navy, 18 is forest green, 19 is moonstone (denim) and 20 is fuchia. By the pure luck of the draw, none of the new saddlecloth colors clash badly with the owners' colors to be worn by Saturday's riders. Perhaps the least felicitous combination is No. 20, Blue Burner. Jockey Corey Nakatani will wear the blue and brown colors of George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable, set off by the fuchia saddle towel with yellow numbers.
SECURITY: Churchill Downs tightened security for this year's Kentucky Derby week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and because the federal government turned down a request from the track for help.
The result was an army of temporary security people, many of whom were unable to answer the simplest of questions. Backpacks were banned on Friday and Saturday, along with food from outside the track. Bags were searched as fans entered the track.
The lockdown also closed most gates to the stable area on Friday morning. That unannounced step forced reporters covering the Derby to take shuttle vans from the parking lot halfway around the track to the main stable gate to gain access to their main sources of information on the day before the big race.