(The Kentucky Derby trophy / Photo by Coady Media)

After I arrived in the Florida Keys this week for a little R&R, I thought I would stay positive and optimistic about the world in which in live in as we rapidly approach the historic 150th Kentucky Derby at the famous Churchill Downs in my beloved Commonwealth of Kentucky.

But by the time it takes to run the final 1/4-mile of the “Run for the Roses,” my “Rest & Relaxation” timeout suddenly turned into a new Triple A — “Angst, Anger and Aggravation.”

All due to one Nick De Meric, a Thoroughbred pin-hooker who has become a regular journalistic contributor to “The Thoroughbred Daily News.”

This past Saturday, the native Englishman decided to take on one of America’s greatest, most time-honored traditions with a “Letter to the Editor” blasting Churchill Downs and this year’s version of the Kentucky Derby.

Nicky wrote:

“I have a couple of questions, the answers to which have eluded me.

“It is my understanding that restricted stakes cannot be awarded graded status, no matter the purse. So, if several of the most talented three-year-olds in the country are prevented from running in the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, does this make them restricted stakes?

“If so, should they retain their Grade I status, be downgraded, or have their graded status removed altogether?


“Nick de Meric.”

Nick must still be hurting from the ass-kicking we gave the Brits to start this country a few years back.

But since Nick admits that he doesn’t have “The Answers,” I will volunteer and give him some helpful tips. Respectfully, of course. And, I will write slowly so that even Nick may be able to follow along.

First of all, Nicky, nearly all races of Thoroughbreds in this country — whether Graded Stakes or otherwise — have some “restrictions.” They are defined in what we like to call the race “conditions.”

Let’s see, if we can give you some examples that you may be able to grasp:

The G1 Kentucky Oaks is “restricted” to 3-year-old fillies. Can’t run in it unless you are a 3-year-old filly, Nick. Get it?

The G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is “restricted” to 2-year-olds. Can’t run in it unless you are a 2-year-old, Nick. Get it?

The G1 Belmont Stakes is “restricted” to 3-year-olds. Can’t run in it unless you are a 3-year-old, Nick. Get it?

Most of the Breeders’ Cup Stakes — all of which are Graded — are “restricted” to those horses that have either earned the post points to gain entry or are selected by a review panel. Can’t run in any of them unless you are earned your way in or selected, Nick. Get it?

In addiiton, all Graded Stakes races have nominations required. Owners and Trainers must “nominate” their horses to the race. Most of which require a payment along with the nomination form. To run, a horse must be — required to be — nominated or supplemented to the Stakes. In other words, restrictions.

In fact, since you live in Florida, you probably can recall that no other state in the land runs more “restricted” races than your little peninsula that you now call home. Maybe that is because your native-bred horses have such a tough time beating those bred in other states — like Kentucky.

But if you need more examples, Nick, please let us know and we will provide you with a full list.

As for your contention that the Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association should consider stripping the Kentucky Derby of its’ G1 status, please consider the following. Respectfully, of course.

The Kentucky Derby — for years now and truly ever since one trainer Laz Barrera’s boys filed a lawsuit to get in the Kentucky Derby and stretched the field to an unmanageable group of 24 or so horses — has been limited to a field of 20.

That field is determined by horses that win races designated by Churchill Downs and assigned a certain amount of points for first, second, third and fourth.

The horses that garner the most points are the horses that have earned first option to gain entry to the greatest race of all time — The Kentucky Derby.

In the rules or “conditions,” which were made public and were available to be circulated to all participants and those interested in running in the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs made it clear that horses trained by the suspended Bob Baffert would not be eligible to earn any points leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

After all, Baffert is the only trainer in history to have a horse disqualified from the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby due to a positive drug test following each of those races.

After all, Baffert is one of the most penalized trainers in recent history of Thoroughbred racing.

After all, Baffert, whether intentionally or not, cheated and broke the rules when his ill-fated horse, Medina Spirit, tested positive for a drug overage after winning the Kentucky Derby in 2021. One test proved it. Multiple tests proved it. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and subsequent Courts of law upheld it.

It was then, and only after then, did Churchill Downs suspend Bob Baffert, who has denied any wrong doing and has filed lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit.

Bob Baffert earned his suspension. Churchill Downs has done the one thing that more parents and court jurisdictions should do. It has held the offending child; the convicted villain accountable.

After all, there is no rule if there is no penalty. Period.

In plain English. Even the English that you may contend is better than our Southern version. A horse trained by Bob Baffert broke the rules. Churchill Downs penalized the person who is responsible for insuring that the horse does not break the rule. And, it has suspended the one person who has dropped to the middle of the floor, kicking and screaming, like a 2-year-old child who despite being caught red-handed has continued to deny any wrongdoing.

The 2023 Kentucky Derby was run without any horses trained by Bob Baffert. No one — not one person in the crowd of 150,000 missed him.

The 2024 Kentucky Derby will be run without any horses trained by Bob Baffert, as well. No one — one one person — will miss him. Again.

If you want to put up about $7 million dollars in purse money and spend 150 years building a tradition in Florida, maybe you can invite Bob to your little party.

If you want to build a brand and a name that is worth billions of dollars and jeopardize all of it to allow a person who has been convicted on multiple offenses to tarnish it, then you build it on your own time and dime.

But I doubt you will.

You would just rather pander to a person who you hope will stop by your barn and buy a horse. Right?

No matter if he is a known cheater? Right?

Maybe as a pinhooker, you should just stick to the “hooking,” and leave the pen to others.

That may you may not embarrass yourself in public. Again.