Forget about sugar plums. This time of year, visions of roses are dancing in the heads of just about anyone who follows Thoroughbred racing. For a few glorious days, you forget about the industry’s troubles and focus on the Kentucky Derby. The equine competitors are stretching their legs at Churchill Downs, every one of them a possible Derby winner. But come the first Saturday in May, only one will wear the fabled blanket of roses. Only one will be the subject of adoration across America. After all, the Kentucky Derby is the only race in this country that truly captures the imagination of both racing fans and the general public.

I’ll be joining the media crowd at Churchill Downs soon enough, after a short stopover in Lexington, where I’ll be doing some research at the Keeneland Library. The library is renowned for its collection of racing archives, and I look forward to immersing myself in history, where the cheers reside in the imagination, before heading to the craziness of Louisville.

So I’ll take a brief time out from blog writing. If I get a chance toward the end of the week, I’ll post some observations about the Derby horses and the buzz at the track. Last year, I was impressed with Shackleford during the week. He lost the Derby in a brave performance after leading from the gate to mid-stretch, but ended up winning the Preakness.

Happy Derby week, and don’t forget those mint juleps!