As a lifelong fan of – and occasional wagerer on – the sport of kings, the May 1 Kentucky Derby was a gem.

Shining brightest were Medina Spirit, a 12-to-1 pick, and his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won his seventh Derby. Medina Spirit led at all calls – but never by Secretariat length. From the starting gate to the wire, the 3-year-old colt held off all comers at the quarter-mile, half, three-quarters, mile, stretch and finish.

In the final stretch run, Medina Spirit – with John Velazquez on top – overcame efforts by Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie (my horse; thanks, Dad) and Essential Quality – and won the 147th Kentucky Derby by less than one length. A great run for a relatively inexpensive yearling from Florida.

First held in 1875, the Derby is the oldest official thoroughbred horse race in the U.S. It is the first race of horse racing's Triple Crown. By the way, the Churchill Downs' afterword was another gem.

When Kentucky Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear was introduced to present the winner's trophy to the colt's owner, he was greeted by a loud and well-deserved round of boos and catcalls from many of the 51,800 who dared attend an outdoor sporting event in the commonwealth.

Perhaps Beshear has convinced himself that the fans were not booing. They were "Drew-ing." Perhaps he is full of the stuff that drops in horse stalls.

I like Medina Spirit's chances in the Preakness at Pimlico. As for the Belmont, the test of champions may prove beyond his reach. We'll see.

• • •

On another sports-related matter, I spoke to my business neighbor, friend and all-around good guy Jeff Collins this weekend. I had heard the news. I referenced the 1919 Chicago White Sox and their great player "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, who belongs in the baseball Hall of Fame. (See https://www.shoelessjoejackson.org/)

"Say it ain't so," I said to Jeff, as youngsters reportedly said to Joe Jackson 102 years ago, when the Cincinnati Reds defeated the White Sox amid the biggest scandal in baseball at that time.

Since 1948, the Collins family has owned and operated Collins Appliance Store in the 100 block of South High Street. Jeff's grandfather, Frank W. "Squeak” Collins owned and operated the store from 1948-85. From 1985-2010, Jeff's father, Danny, owned the family business. Sadly, both Squeak (May 27, 2010) and Danny (Nov. 3, 2010) passed away the same year.

My best memories of Squeak will always be from my baseball years at the Hillsboro ballpark. Squeak encouraged so many youngsters to do their best, and he probably tracked down more fouls balls from more fields than anyone. He may have, on occasion, shared a rub of chewing tobacco with me during my sports reporting days.

For the last 11 years, Jeff and his mother, Ramona, have continued the business that spanned 73 years. For more than 50 of those years, my family – four generations' worth – have been well-served by the Collins family. We have purchased GE appliances from washers, dryers, freezers, refrigerators and stoves (ranges?) from the Collins Appliance Store from the 1960s until 2021.

In times of unexpected household emergencies, we have called Squeak, Danny and Jeff for service. Never did they fail to deliver. Not once.

I was telling Jeff the story of his dad and Steve Nartker, who had the unenviable task of delivering three of our first GE appliances before I put in our sidewalk around 1988. (To my credit, our sidewalk has held up better than the costly one the city of Hillsboro put in front of my business a few years ago.)

Back to 1988. My fellow Whiteoak High School graduate Mark Edenfield had installed our septic system and driveway. We then had a lot of late-winter rain. Everything was muddy from the recent excavation around our house. While I was at work at Rotary Forms Press, Inc., Danny Collins and Steve Nartker delivered our new appliances. Later, Danny would say it was a good thing I wasn't there. He and Steve, shall we say, were not impressed with the situation.

With apologies from Pam, they managed to bring the washer, dryer and stove through the muddy driveway, into the basement and up the basement steps. All part of the job for a local business.

One of the kindest things Danny ever said to me was this: "If all of my customers paid upfront like you do, I wouldn't need to track our accounts."

I appreciated that. And for 50 years, the Ryan family has appreciated the Collins family. We always will.

Our best to Jeff and Ramona. South High Street won't be the same.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper.