Kentucky Derby 2012: Why the Spectacle Is Still Relevant Today

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIMay 5, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03:  Optimizer trains in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

More famous blue grass and the University of Kentucky basketball team, the state of Kentucky's most famous draw is the Kentucky Derby, and horse racing's grandest event is here once again.

Since the inaugural race in 1875, "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" draws high-profile individuals and though horse racing's interest in the public eye has gone up and down over the race's 137 year history, the Derby continues to garner national attention and a sell-out audience.

The high profile audience members have already made their presence known at Churchill Downs. Some big sports names like New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Chris Canty of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, former tennis stars Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi and skier Lindsay Vonn are on hand for the 2012 edition of the famous horse race.

And of course some of Hollywood's stars have stormed the great state of Kentucky to be seen as well, with Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher using the media attention of the spectacle to end the feud between himself and country singer Miranda Lambert. The two were reportedly not the best of friends after Lambert felt Kutcher made fun of country music when presenting her with the Female Vocalist of the Year awards at last year's Country Music Awards.

Every year it seems the discussion of whether the Derby is still a big deal comes up. To that I say, if it wasn't such a big deal, then Kutcher wouldn't be trying to steal it's limelight, it would still continue to bring people from all over to Kentucky and it wouldn't continue to get us all talking about horse racing, even if it's just for a few weeks.

The Kentucky Derby will always be relevant so long as there is horse racing, because the event itself is bigger than the sport it showcases, it's a slice of Americana and national tradition. The Derby is one of the oldest annual sporting events in the history of this country, I mean America itself is only a little over a hundred year's older than this event. 

While certainly not on the same level viewership-wise, the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby are two of the only sporting events that have become entrenched in American culture. The days in which they are held are considered by sports fans and even non-sports fans as unofficial national holidays, something the Stanley Cup or NBA Finals can't say.

So whether you enjoy watching horses run around the track or not, join in the American culture and enjoy the 2012 edition of one of America's oldest and richest annual events. It's the best way you can spend two minutes of your Saturday.