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The Kentucky Derby mystique

How did race transcend niche sport to captivate world for two minutes each year?

Updated: February 27, 2013, 11:21 PM ET
By Paul Moran | Special to ESPN.com

By late afternoon, the shadows lengthened, 20 horses appear at the gap above the first turn on the Churchill Downs backstretch, gleaming, face to face at last with the moment in their young lives that will either define them forever in history or leave them little more than footnotes among thousands in the Kentucky Derby's ether.

The ritual begins with the walkover, the procession every owner of a thoroughbred aspires to experience. For the moment, the playing field is level and ...

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