It’s a rite of spring: A horse owned by Rick Porter racing in the Kentucky Derby.
But this year could be even more exciting for the Wilmington businessman. If colts Old Fashioned and Friesan Fire meet expectations, Porter will field two entries in the Derby on May 2.
“We just need to keep them sound between now and the beginning of May,” says Porter, owner of Fox Hill Farm.
For the past several years, one of the roads to Churchill Downs has run through the First State. Past Triple Crown hopefuls Afleet Alex and Barbaro won their career debut races at Delaware Park. Other contenders have had Delaware-based trainers or were stabled just over the state line in Maryland or Pennsylvania.
“It used to be that a horse had to be from California or Florida or New York,” says John Curran, track announcer at Delaware Park. “Now you could have a future Derby horse making a debut right here during the summer.”
Porter’s success has come from finding exceptional horses and pairing them with successful trainers. Porter’s Hard Spun and Eight Belles, both trained by Larry Jones, finished second in the Derby in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The Porter-Jones combination is working toward its third straight Derby appearance this year.
Porter’s 3-year-old colts have been rated among the best horses in the United States. Old Fashioned was leading the national rankings until mid-March when, as the heavy favorite in a Derby prep race, he finished second to a longshot. Until then, he had won his first four career races in impressive fashion.
Friesan Fire won his first three races this year, improving by leaps and bounds with each run. The idea is for each horse to reach its peak as the Derby approaches.
“The ultimate in horse racing is to get to the Derby with a horse that belongs there,” Porter says. “It’s a great thing to chase, and we’ve been lucky enough to be in the chase the past few years.” —Drew Ostroski
Page 2: A Solid Foundation | A Wilmington philanthropist is taking his successful brain tumor awareness movement national.
A Wilmington philanthropist is taking his successful brain tumor awareness movement national.
In 2005 Chris Grundner left his position as senior vice president at JP Morgan Chase to create the Kelly Heinz-Grundner Brain Tumor Foundation—with amazing success.
KHG has raised nearly $800,000 through events such as tulip bulb sales and a brain tumor walk. Last year, during the inaugural walk, 2,000 participants helped raise more than $182,000. Grundner expects close to 3,000 walkers during this year’s event on May 2 at the Wilmington Riverfront.
Grundner’s wife, Kelly, died from a brain tumor at age 31 in 2004.
“Kelly went undiagnosed for six months because we and her primary care physician were not educated on the disease,” Grundner says. “The doctor thought she was too young to have a brain tumor. I realized the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning was telling her story.”
Now KHG is the only foundation in the country dedicated to raising brain tumor awareness and promoting early detection. Each day about 35 people—including three children—die in the U.S. from a brain tumor or spinal cord tumor.
Grundner was recognized by the Brandywine Chapter of the Association of Fundraising last year with its first New Face in Philanthropy award. Now he’s taking the awareness movement national with the Get Your Head in the Game campaign.
KHG launched a $100,000 awareness media campaign in New Castle County last year and is forming alliances with other brain tumor foundations.
“The analogy I use is that we’re where breast cancer was 25 years ago,” Grundner says. “Last year at the walk, people thanked me for giving them a chance to do something. It speaks to the fact that it’s an untapped area.”
Page 3: Safety is the Key | SmartDrive steers teens toward more responsible driving. Next stop: Wilmington University
SmartDrive steers teens toward more responsible driving. Next stop: Wilmington University.
After six Delaware teenagers died in a series of car crashes in February 2004, Pete Booker developed SmartDrive.
“We knew three of them personally,” says Booker, president and CEO of Delmarva Broadcasting Company. “All three were killed in one night.”
The nonprofit SmartDrive Foundation runs an online program through local schools that encourages inexperienced drivers to make better decisions behind the wheel.
“You’re dealing with the teenager who’s been driving and thinks they’re an experienced driver,” says program director Karen Busby. “It’s our job to show them that practice makes perfect.”
SmartDrive, launched in 2005 by Booker and other managers at Delmarva Broadcasting, started with 600 students in 16 schools. The program now encompasses 6,000 students in 80 schools, including all but three Delaware high schools. The program, which qualifies as a defensive driving program that earns a 10 percent discount on auto insurance, also serves students in Maryland and Chester County, Pennsylvania.
SmartDrive aims to help students think about their actions while driving and about how they can become better citizens. Sussex Tech students, for example, produce public service announcements about safe driving. Some Charter School of Wilmington students have made SmartDrive their senior project.
A new program that focuses on college students, SmartDrive U, will roll out at Wilmington University next fall. Considering it’s an all-commuter operation, the university is an ideal candidate. Topics will include battling aggressive driving, combating drowsy driving and the effects of alcohol on driving.
Booker says SmartDrive, with Delaware’s graduated driver license law, have helped the cause. “Every year, if we can get one or even a few to change their habits and avoid unnecessary loss of life, then the program’s a success.” —Drew Ostroski
Page 5: Biden Time | A monthly review of the veep
A monthly review of the veep
President Obama said his economic stimulus plan would require great accountability. Why ask Biden to lead the unprecedented oversight effort? “Because nobody messes with Joe,” said the prez.
Ah, but folks did take shots at the veep after he went on TV to promote Recovery.org, only to forget the “website number.” The gaffe drew comparisons to George Bush’s infamous “Internets” comment.
During “The Tonight Show” President Obama unfortunately likened his bowling skills to—well, we all know. The moment was, shall we say, Biden-esque. Could foot-in-mouth disease be contagious?