Uncle Sigh to honor military veterans in Derby


Associated Press

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 4:00 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Uncle Sigh will don blinkers with a yellow hood bearing a purple heart in the Kentucky Derby.

It's another show of support by Wounded Warrior Stables for military veterans injured or killed in Afghanistan.

George "Chip" McEwen, a longtime horse owner, adopted his stable name two years ago and donates 10 percent of the horse's purse earnings to several veterans' organizations. First place in the Derby is worth $1.4 million.

"It's not about me, it's about them, and getting them in the forefront of people's minds again because it's easy to forget we've been at war since 2001," said McEwen, who owns Uncle Sigh in partnership with Anthony Robertson.

McEwen was moved to action several years ago after seeing a disabled veteran get helped off a flight.

"It was then that I realized that I had to do more for people like that than buy a wristband or a T-shirt to support them," he said.

He has invited several wounded veterans to join him at the Derby.

"We're excited to have them here," he said. "It's a special day for us and this horse. Every horse owner's dream is to get to the Derby. We're hoping for a miracle, like everybody else."

Uncle Sigh is 30-1 on the morning line. He is 1 for 5 in his career, running fifth most recently in the Wood Memorial. The colt wears blinkers to narrow his vision and filter out distractions.

Trainer Gary Contessa hopes adding the blinkers for the first time pushes Uncle Sigh to pull off McEwen's miracle.

"I think they'll help him take the next jump," Contessa said. "In every single race I've seen a reason to think he needs blinkers. Hopefully we'll focus him, and he can become a really good horse."