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Mine That Bird Wins In Derby Upset

Mine That Bird defied the oddsmakers to win the 135th Kentucky Derby Saturday.

Mine That Bird was given 50 to 1 odds before the race, and for most of the Derby, the horse lagged behind the 18 other competitors. In the final stretch, Mine That Bird stuck to the inside track and finished the run nearly seven lengths ahead of the pack.

The victory is the second largest upset in Derby history, even surprising winning jockey Calvin Borel.

“I wasn’t planning on winning it, but he was going to finish somewhere,” says Borel. “Because the way he turned no there about the three and a half and then after that he started picking it up so easy, it was unbelievable.”

Borel rode Street Sense to a Derby victory two years ago. He also rode Rachel Alexandra, the filly that won the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby, making him the first jockey since 1993 to have ridden the Oaks and Derby winners in the same year.

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Slugger Museum Renovation Complete, President Counting On New Tourists

A three-year renovation of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in downtown Louisville is complete.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, company President John Hillerich said the renovations cost a significant amount of money, and were paid for entirely by the company.

Hillerich could not give a timeframe for how long it will take the company to see a return on the investment. He says it depends on a number of outside factors.

“What helps boost visitors is when Louisville as a whole does well,” he says. “When Louisville does a nice job attracting conventions or visitors, that’s when our attendance goes up. A good example is this FFA. When they’re in town we just do a huge amount of business.”

Hillerich says the museum has not seen a significant decline in visitors in the current economy.

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Hundreds Turn Out For Cards Rally

The University of Louisville women’s basketball team got a high-energy sendoff for the Final Four.

Several hundred fans turned out Wednesday to a pep rally for the team downtown. The Cards will play the first ever Final Four game in the program’s history against Oklahoma Sunday in St. Louis.

Coach Jeff Walz told the fans at the rally he hopes their enthusiasm carries over into next season.

“We love to see all of you,” he said. “Not just in St. Louis but back next year so we can fill Freedom Hall. We need to get fifteen to seventeen-thousand every night.”

Stanford and Connecticut are also in the Final Four. They play Sunday as well.

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Volleyball Championship, New Name Coming To Arena

Louisville’s new downtown arena has been chosen to host the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball championships.

The championship is expected to have a $4 million economic impact, and Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host says he hopes the event will be the first of many national tournaments to be held in the arena.

Host says the arena is on track to open in the fall of 2010. He says the next step for the building is securing the naming rights.

“We’re beginning to close some of these transactions,” he says. “We’ve got three people on the naming rights hunt and we’re just going to make sure we get the right amount of money.”

Host says the authority is hoping to get 40 million dollars for the naming rights.

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Bourbon Fest And Ryder Cup Compete For Hotels

Some visitors to this year’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival are using unorthodox methods to find a place to stay.

This year, the Bourbon Festival coincides with the Ryder Cup golf competition. The cup is in Louisville, but hotels are booked to near capacity in many nearby cities, including Bardstown, which hosts the Bourbon Festival.

Festival executive director Milt Spalding says that’s given some Bardstown residents the chance to make some extra money.

“I have heard, of course we’re not a part of that, but I believe some people around this area have been renting out rooms in their homes if they have rooms available and the bed and breakfasts have all been filling up,” he says.”

Spalding says the Ryder Cup hasn’t hurt ticket sales for the Bourbon Festival. Both events are September 16th through 21st.

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Hospitality Professionals Prepare For Ryder Cup

With the Ryder Cup less than two weeks away, local hospitality professionals are getting ready to host the thousands of visitors the event will bring to the city.

With more than 40 thousand spectators expected to visit Valhalla Golf Club every day for five days, nearly every hotel in Louisville is booked to capacity. To accommodate extra visitors, the city’s convention and visitors bureau has coordinated with other cities to book hotel rooms within 60 miles of Louisville.

Tournament Director Tara Guenthner says hotel space has been more of a challenge in Louisville than in other host cities.

“In more recent times we’ve gone to more major metropolitan cities. Boston and Detroit have lots of hotel rooms right around where the golf course is taking place,” says Guenthner. “So that’s a little bit different here but I don’t think that’s a negative.”

The Ryder Cup international golf competition will be held September 16th through 21st at Valhalla.