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Kentucky Derby jewels

Here are 36 reasons why the Kentucky Derby is a great sporting event.

1. You can bet on it.

2. It is proof that horse racing is still here. Every year since the chariot races in "Ben Hur," the so-called sports media experts have been reporting the death of horse racing. As the sport has entered the "gaming" industry -- "gaming" being a pleasant way of saying rot-gut psycho gambling -- racing purses are bigger. With the sport's future tied to casinos, it's probably safe to say gambling is not dead.

3. Some Derby hats have fruit on them.

4. TV ratings are huge. Given that most horse racing fans are at tracks or simulcast venues, which go unrated, the popularity of this event is all the more noteworthy.

5. The payoff prices on most wagers are big; a small successful bet will get you a lot of what you need.

6. The jockeys share the same room.

7. The draw for post positions at the Derby is the most exciting business outside the race itself. The post position draw will be held at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. The high-tension drama concerns the No. 1 gate position. Starting backward would be preferred over starting on the rail. When the rail gate opens, the horse in there has to go all out or risk being shuffled into the infield.

8. The overhead camera replay of the race is memorable.

9. The race is open to female horses, female riders, female trainers and female owners.

10. No system can pick winners.

11. Losing bets can be written off on tax returns up to the point of winnings.

12. Cheaters seldom win this one.

13. You could be walking around lucky without knowing it.

14. The start of the race involving 20 horses is nuts.

15. The Derby coverage is literate. The horse race media seems smarter than the representatives of other sports because extreme thought is routinely required at the track.

16. The highest Beyer number, or speed rating, is often a sucker play.

17. Deep closers almost always lose.

18. The picks of former great jockeys almost always lose.

19. Horses will never again race against 19 foes.

20. Early freaky speed almost always loses.

21. Something like a college sports atmosphere exists as regional pride follows the horses to Louisville.

22. On-site spectators appear weepy even though they don't know the words to "My Old Kentucky Home."

23. People under 80 years of age are shown to follow the sport (mostly in the infield and at the rail).

24. Losers have plenty of company.

25. Advertising is not yet plastered all over the horses and jockeys and is only occasionally seen on a rider's pant leg.

26. You know as much as the experts.

27. The points-to-qualify system works.

28. The Masters and the Kentucky Derby are the two sporting events that inspire poetic narratives that tiptoe up to being sappy.

29. The number of strong British accents in the media is held to a reasonable minimum daily requirement. Do lots of Americans announce soccer over there?

30. The second Derby futures wagering pool had California Chrome at more than 30-1.

31. The overnight double matching the winner of the Oaks and the Derby usually pays much more than you would expect.

32. Rain changes everything.

33. Dresses.

34. Names of horses can be interesting. Vicar's in Trouble has horses named Vicar and Mischief in its bloodline. Owners have lost the creative edge lately, using boring personal experience over originality.

35. There will be another race somewhere, 30 minutes after the Derby, so you can try to get your money back.

36. Horses can't talk.