Downey Announces Retirement From Current Format
By Dick Downey
Posted Dec. 30, 2020
(BOWLING GREEN, KY) I am announcing today the retirement of The Downey Profile in its current form. Several things have contributed to my decision.
I launched The Downey Profile in late 2002, covering the 2003 Kentucky Derby when 12-1 shot Funny Cide took down Empire Maker, with Peace Rules running third and Atswhatimtalknbout checking in fourth. Both Funny Cide and Empire Maker were in The Downey Profile Top 4, and we were off and running.
I am an attorney by formal training, and The Downey Profile has been a beloved, self-taught second vocation for me. I started it out of a passion for the Kentucky Derby, its history, its beauty, its prominence in my home state, and a burning desire to unlock the secrets of the world's most famous horse race.
Although nothing can ever be predicted with certainty, I have succeeded to an extent in figuring out what makes the Kentucky Derby tick. I correctly singled the winner six out of the last seven years, singled Smarty Jones in 2004, and I forget how many years my top choice finished second and produced a profit across the board. Back testing of the Profile prior to 2003, and then going forward in real time, has produced 33 of the last 48 winners of the Kentucky Derby from the Top 4.
Obviously I can't do this forever, and now seems to be a good time to put on the brakes. Here are some things that influenced my decision.
-- I have tried to keep TDP youthful in its presentation, and I hope I've succeeded, but the truth is I turned 70 in November. I got my first Social Security check this month. I feel like slowing down a bit.
-- In June I learned I had prostate cancer. I had a prostatectomy on July 22 and somehow barely missed a beat covering the run-up to the Kentucky Derby. As fate would have it, there were no Derby points races the weekend after my surgery.
-- By the way, I feel well and so far there is no sign of recurrence. I am close to finishing 35 sessions of radiation therapy, which is a preventive measure, and I am undergoing hormone therapy for the same reason. While I feel really well, it has occurred to me that I should not be tied to the day-in day-out rigor of running a website.
-- I can devote more time to Cindy. She has been uber-patient with my obsession and the never-ending, constant-deadline nature of covering horse racing at its highest level. It's time to return the favor.
-- I attended the Kentucky Derby this year, but I have to be honest with you, it was not a great experience. Fans weren't allowed in the track. Downtown Louisville was boarded up. Security and protocols were tight, as they should have been, but it was not fun or joyous.
-- The powers that be have decided horses can't run with Lasix in 2-year-old races and stakes races in Kentucky. I understand how a desire to present the sport to the public as drug-free is important, but this decision is not going to solve that problem, and apparently a large majority of equine veterinarians are strongly opposed as not being in the best interests of the horse and in fact unsafe.
With this in mind, I think it's time to say all good things must come to an end, and so with sadness I am declaring The Downey Profile website has run its course.
I will keep my domain name for now. I may start a service that is not as grand in scope or as time-consuming as The Downey Profile. I just don't know yet.
I want to thank everyone for following The Downey Profile the past 18 years, especially subscribers. You have meant a lot to me, and I have had the good fortune to make many friends.
I want to especially thank:
-- Ron Mitchell at BloodHorse for giving me early guidance, constructive criticism and hosting my weekly columns at Bloodhorse.com for over 10 years. Ron and I have been friends for 45 years. I wish him a great retirement.
-- Mike "Cheap Speed" Pearson for writing witty, pithy race previews at The Downey Profile for its first six years. Mike decided Smarty Jones would win the Kentucky Derby in December 2003, and he told everyone who would listen. Like me, Mike is an attorney by formal training. Back then, he spent most of his time prosecuting felons for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
-- Greg "The Commish" Johnson, a fine and colorful analyst who, like Mike, is a lifelong horse player. Greg's main vocation is auditing nuclear facilities and teaching others how to become certified. His analytical abilities are self-evident in his writing, and for 12 years he reliably produced quality selections stories for The Downey Profile.
-- Ron Dowdy, who never saw a big event he didn't want to attend. He's been my friend and merchant service provider (Java Payment Services) pretty much since the day we accidentally had seats in the same box at Keeneland.
-- Judy Egerton and Mike Overstreet for putting me up, and putting up with me, during stays in Louisville of varying lengths all the way down the line. And our mutual friend John Cameron for suggesting I start a Derby website and for helping me with it the first year.
-- Thomas Conner and everyone at Sitemason (now Multiply LLC) down in Nashville for an excellent job of hosting The Downey Profile website and providing technical support since its inception.
Along the way I made friends with some great people, and I'll mention a few.
-- The late Victor Zast, whom I met by accident in 2005 at Gulfstream Park, and who became a good personal friend. Vic traveled hundreds of miles to attend my mother's funeral in 2010, and I shall never forget it. Through him, I am fortunate to have become friends with his family to this day.
-- Jennie Rees, who sponsored my induction into National Turf Writers and Broadcasters and who helped me and elevated me many times, not the least of which was during her final week at The Courier-Journal, the 2015 Breeders' Cup at Keeneland.
-- Roxy Roxborough, the famed Las Vegas oddsmaker who, early on, called The Downey Profile "the best Derby website by the length of a stretch." He is one of the most brilliant people I've ever met.
-- Multiple Kentucky Derby winning owner Jack Wolf, who's been a major friend to the sport we love and who knows how to enjoy it.
-- Fellow officers and directors at National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, including present and past presidents Tom Law, Tom Pedulla and Alicia Hughes; board member and thought leader Marty McGee; former board member, president and defender of quality Jay Privman; the always chipper Byron King; the talented Evan Hammonds, who dubbed me "Derby Dick" many years ago; Loren Hebel-Osborne, with whom I've enjoyed working Derby week events including NTWAB's annual awards dinner; James Scully and Ed DeRosa from TwinSpires.com, whose insight has been invaluable; and all the NTWAB members who cover the sport we love. On the public relations side, the late John Asher along with Darren Rogers at Churchill Downs, Amy Gregory at Keeneland, Sherry Pinson at Turfway Park and Joanie Lawrence at NTRA were always accommodating and helpful.
-- Last but not least, the guys at Kentucky Downs, from Ryan Driscoll when Brad Kelley was the owner, to Corey and C J Johnsen, to John Wholihan and current primary owners Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone, thank you.
The Kentucky Derby
During one of the legendary Derby week dinners at the now defunct John E's restaurant in Louisville, Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger stood up and said, very eloquently, that no one is bigger than the Kentucky Derby. The last two years have been trying for the race and its fans, but it will rebound and retain its prominence in the world of sports.
Here's a belated Merry Christmas to all, and let's have a better year in 2021. I haven't fully decided what my future holds, and I don't know what it holds for me, but here's to many more years.