When the gates fly open at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, all eyes will be on the 20 racehorses that launch themselves into the 138th Kentucky Derby. That's a lot of horses, and a special challenge for the men charged with getting them into the starting gate safely.
Caleb Hayes, 24, has been part of the 12-man start crew for the past six years. The 9-to-5 life isn't for him, he says — he loves his job and likes working the gate side by side with the older guys.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt shattered world records in the 100 and 200 meter races at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Shown here in the 200 meters at Beijing, he's looking to repeat this summer at the London Olympics and add another chapter to Jamaica's great tradition of sprinting.
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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce waves after competing in the 100-meter semifinal at the World Athletics Championships in South Korea last year. Fraser-Pryce won gold at the 2008 Olympics, and is viewed as a hero by the Jamaican children she sometimes shares a track with.
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Top Jamaican sprinters, including Olympic gold medalist Asafa Powell (in blue), practice at Kingston's National Stadium on one of the country's few synthetic tracks.
Credit Viet Le / NPR
Jamaican teens and preteens compete in the island's track championships at the National Stadium in the capital, Kingston.
When it comes to sprinting, Jamaica reigns supreme.
At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a Jamaican man — Usain Bolt — and a woman — Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce — took home the golds in the 100-meter race, and at this summer's London games, they're hoping to do it again.
If you visit the Caribbean island nation, you'll hear a lot of explanations for why they're so good, but let's start with the obvious: In Jamaica, kids really like to run.
The field of horses charges down the stretch in the seventh race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on June 19, 2009. The day marked the first night racing at the storied track in its 135-year history. Track superintendent Butch Lehr is retiring after Saturday's race. He's been maintaining the track since 1982.
Credit Ed Reinke / AP
Lehr rolls in a section of a mosquito trap which is set up near the turf course at the track Aug. 13, 2002, in Louisville, Ky.
The surface on which Kentucky Derby horses will race Saturday is a special piece of real estate, built for high performance and safety. The track is generically described as dirt, but is actually a careful mixture of river sand, silt and clay.
Junior Seau's suicide this week adds more fodder to the questions around the NFL and player safety. Audie Cornish talks with sportswriter Stefan Fatsis about Seau and the league's ongoing lawsuits from other players and their families.
NEW YORK (AP) — A former U.S. attorney hired by the NFL to evaluate its investigation of the New Orleans Saints' bounty program says the evidence shows payments were handed out and received for some hits on targeted opponents. She adds the players always had the option to say no, but didn't.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tulane University's plans to construct a new football stadium in New Orleans' Uptown neighborhood are drawing opposition from some residents. Opponents of the stadium say they believe it will add to traffic and parking problems.