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Derby: A Life's Work Reduced to 2 Minutes

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To understand why the Kentucky Derby really is the most exciting two minutes in sports – why stomachs twist at the start and hearts pound at the finish and tension permeates every step in between – you must trace the broad path that narrows to a razor's edge Saturday evening. You must go back to the beginning.

The journey to this 138th running of the world's greatest horse race began in late winter or early spring of 2009. It began on a thoroughbred farm somewhere – the rolling bluegrass countryside of Kentucky for many. It began at birth, with blood and wobbly legs and high hopes for every live thoroughbred foal.

What followed has been a remorseless whittling down to the fastest and the fittest of the three-year-olds.

The Jockey Club estimates that...

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