By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport


SCENE & HEARD: On this very date six years ago, Joey Kenward was sitting alone in a Portland, Ore., hotel room screaming at his television set as Mario Gutierrez rode I’ll Have Another to a stunning victory in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

“I was in Portland broadcasting the Western Hockey League playoffs for Shaw TV,” Kenward recalls. “I decided right then and there that getting to a Kentucky Derby in person was going to be a priority on my bucket list.”

Today’s the day.

Kenward left Vancouver this past Wednesday for Churchill Downs and the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby and says his only regret is that Mario doesn’t have a mount in the first leg of racing’s Triple Crown.

But that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm. Kenward has become quite a student of the Sport of Kings to the point where he’s an energetic part owner of the Mike Anderson-trained Shooting Jacket.

Through his friendship with race analyst and handicapper Drew Forster, Kenward met local breeder John Gunther at The Derby Bar and Grill in Surrey.

Kenward authored an excellent article on Gunther and just two of the many horses he has bred – Justify and Vino Rosso – who are both mentioned predominantly as serious Kentucky Derby contenders today at Churchill Downs. Justify and Vino Rosso were bred by Gunther and raised at the Glenwood Farm near Louisville in Versailles. His daughter Tanya oversees the day-to-day operations at the 350-acre Glenwood complex.

“It’s a great B.C. connection for me,” says Kenward, who spent his youth on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan where he frequently visits his parents in Kelowna.

The former Vancouver Giants broadcaster (2003-2008) and more recently part of the Canucks’ broadcast crew, Joey now works full-time for Sportsnet 650 Radio hosting – among other things – pre-game and post-game shows on the Canucks’ radio network.

“When I was working with the Giants at the Pacific Coliseum I’d slip over to the track whenever I could,” Kenward says. “I didn’t know anybody there but over the years I’ve met some great people and I just love being a part of the racing scene.”

Drew Forster, by the way, is a son of the great Hall of Fame Hastings trainer Dave. Another son – Grant – trains horses at Churchill Downs. All three have welcomed Joey Kenward into their racing family and at some point today, Joey plans to hoist a mint julep in their honour.