(Captain Hooks Sunset Cruise / All Photos by Kinsey Beck)

After the craziness of the 2024 legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly and just before the lunacy that becomes the 150th Kentucky Derby, the lovely Leigh Ann and I decided to squeeze a week of vacation and a trip to the Florida Keys with some great friends and family.

On Wednesday night, our Party Organizer Extraordinaire, one Leigh Ann Sears, called ahead and lined up a romantic sunset cruise with the fine folks at Captain Hooks and Captain Kinsey.

We tooled around looking at the magnificent homes of Mario and some chap building a Boat House out of restored wood from cruise ships. The Boat House, mind you, resembled a three-story mansion with a 2-story “bubble” window to accommodate a historic, time-honored tree that now resides inside year-round.

We motored about, looking at boats that looked like houses and houses that looked like high-rise hotels and hotels and condominiums that resembled mansions of gold.

Then, it was time to make our way to the seas, where we could seize the moment of watching the magnificent Sun Drop until it dipped and dissolved into the sea like a huge dollop of butter.

As we trolled and gandered, suddenly a bird lit on the boat rail just beside me. My great friend, and former MLB pitcher Rob Murphy, immediately recognized it as a Cormorant, and Kinsey, a young, salty dog of 51 years of age, laughed and remarked:

“In all my years, I have never seen that happen. Never. Ever.”

I don’t know if the bird was sent from the heavens as a reminder of Mine that Bird, the grand upset winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby, or as a tip for the 150th Kentucky Derby, which is rapidly forthcoming.

You see, there was a nice racehorse and New York sire by the name of Cormorant, too. The son of His Majesty was bred in Midway, and by the late, great family doctor, Ben Roach, who served as my doctor, too. In fact, he served as the doctor who delivered me, some 68 years ago.

Cormorant — who was purchased for a mere $16,000 and named after the owner’s wife’s sailboard — won the 1977 Jersey Derby. Cormorant had a 7-race win streak snapped when he ran 2nd in the 1977, G2 Withers Stakes.

A bit later, after skipping the Kentucky Derby, Cormorant was entered in the G1 Preakness Stakes. He was 4th in that middle leg of the Triple Crown to the likes of Seattle Slew, Iron Constitution and Run Dusty Run.

He returned to the races just four days later to win the G1 Jersey Derby.

Now, my good friend Rob Murphy — one of the greatest pedigree analysts in the history of Thoroughbred racing (and I’m not kidding) — and I are trying to find some connection between Cormorant; his sire His Majesty; or the grandsire of Ribot.

And, as luck would have it…

Drum roll please…

G1 Florida Derby winner Fierceness, who just so happened to win the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, as well, traces back to the grand Ribot line about 8 generations ago. But who is counting. He traces back, right.

So all those persons looking for a sign?

So all you people looking for an omen?

So all you people wanting some divine intervention in how you select a Kentucky Derby winner?

There you go.

Fierceness may not be from the line of Cormorant, but the message was delivered by one. The son of Ribot was sent to us on the wings of a snow, white dove that turned into a pitch black Cormorant.

On the high seas.