Will Selva Covered Barbaro’s Victory at the 2006 Kentucky Derby

By Will Selva

The Kentucky Derby took an exciting turn in 2006 when 6:1 favorite Barbaro stumbled at the beginning of the race, but charged his way to the lead on the last turn of the track to win by more than six lengths. While working as a Sports Anchor for CNN, Will Selva covered the history-making event in which Barbaro won by the largest margin of victory witnessed at the Kentucky Derby in some 60 years. Will Selva offers an overview of Barbaro.

In 2006, the Kentucky Derby featured the largest crowd ever in attendance. The second pre-race betting favorite to thoroughbred Brother Derek, Barbaro went into the competition without having competed for five weeks prior. However, up to that point he remained undefeated in five previous races over the past six months. With jockey Edgar Prado, Barbaro faltered at the start of the one-and-a-quarter mile race but came back strong to win in 2:01.36, becoming only the sixth undefeated horse to win the Kentucky Derby.

The horse’s first place prize of $1.45 million boosted his career winnings to $2.3 million. Unfortunately the success would be short lived. Just two weeks after his momentous win at Churchill Downs, Barbaro broke his right hind leg in more than 20 places on the first straightaway at the Preakness Stakes race in Baltimore, Maryland. In the following months, Barbaro would undergo extensive surgery and a slow recovery process. A nationwide public outpouring for the horse began as veterinarians gave Barbaro a 50-50 chance of survival.

For the first several months after the initial surgery, he appeared to make a solid recovery. However, complications that surfaced four to five months following the injury required that Barbaro undergo euthanasia, as he could not survive with just three legs. Today, a number of tributes and memorials to Barbaro exist, including a bronze sculpture of the horse at the entrance to Churchill Downs.

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Will Selva on Will Ferrell and Semi-Pro

by Will Selva

Several years ago, I interviewed television and movie star Will Ferrell. The former Saturday Night Live cast member came to our ESPN studios to promote his 2008 basketball comedy Semi-Pro.

Written by Scot Armstrong and directed by Kent Alterman, Semi-Pro is set in the 1970s and tells the story of Jackie Moon, a former singer (played by Ferrell) who buys the (fictitious) Flint Tropics, the worst team in the now-defunct American Basketball Association (ABA). The ABA only existed from 1967 to 1976, when it merged with the National Basketball Association (NBA). Only four of its teams made it to the NBA: the Indiana Pacers, the Denver Nuggets, the New York (now New Jersey) Nets, and the San Antonio Spurs. This merger serves as an important plot point in the movie, as Moon learns that the ABA Commissioner plans to allow the four best teams in the league to join the NBA. As the team’s owner, head coach, and power forward, Moon brings the Tropics to the top of the league by introducing the alley-oop shot. The film co-stars André Benjamin (also known as Andre 3000) of Outkast, Woody Harrelson, and Andy Richter, along with regular Ferrell collaborators Rob Corddry, Tim Meadows, Ed Helms, and David Koechner.

In 2008, Semi-Pro won Best Sports Movie at ESPN’s ESPY Awards. Also in 2008, Will Ferrell released Step Brothers, in which he played a “man-child” along with the Academy Award-nominated actor John C. Reilly. In 2010, he starred in the dramedy Everything Must Go, which is about a man who conducts a garage sale of all his possessions after losing his job and his wife on the same day. Ferrell also temporarily replaced the departing Steve Carrell for four episodes on NBC’s The Office.