Running For The Roses

Sharyn Alfonsi is a CBS News correspondent based in New York.
I have always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby. I imagined myself, looking very smart in a fantastic hat, the perfect dress and impractical shoes. Well, today I'm at Churchill Downs. It's pouring rain. I am wearing riding boots, jeans and a baseball hat. I've been side-stepping "landmines" near the stables and have yet to see a Mint Julep.

Let me explain. I have spent most of my time here walking around the backside of the race track near the stables. This is where the horses are kept and groomed. It's where I met Todd Pletcher. Pletcher is a silver-haired, tour-de-force in the world of horse training. He runs his barns like a C-E-O and that's a good thing. This Saturday, Pletcher will saddle up FIVE of the 20 horses that will run in the Derby. Pletcher has sent plenty of horses to the Derby but, he has yet to train a Triple Crown Winner. This could be his year.

Not far from "Pletchers Platoon", is Jamie Sanders. If Pletcher is playing the odds, Jamie Sanders is trying to defy them. She will be only the 13th woman, in more than 130 years to saddle a horse at the Derby. None have ever won. Teachers used to tell her she had a better shot of becoming a movie star than a female horse-trainer.

But Jamie pressed on. She became an understudy to Hall of Fame Trainer, Nick Zito. She stayed focused.

(AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
Yesterday, Sanders was riding Teuflesberg around the track. (That's the two of them on the left.) In addition to training the horse, she co-owns it, with her fiancé, Donnie. They bought the horse for $9,000 dollars. Saturday, Teuflesberg will race against million dollar thoroughbreds. They are long shots -- but I wouldn't bet against them.

Meantime, all around Louisville, the city is preparing for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth. She is supposed to attend the Derby this year. If she want's to see what the Derby is REALLY all about, she ought to kick off her heels and put on her boots. The real stories are back in the barn and I bet someone will get HER a Mint Julep!

UPDATE: The lovely men at the VFW, where our satellite truck is parked, just offered me a beer. Who needs Mint Juleps, anyway?!!