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Reflections on Baylor Journalism Alumna Who Covered Derby Day May 12, 2021

Posted by Mia Moody-Ramirez in : Uncategorized , trackback

By Louis Moore

Just recently, a female reporter on horseback with microphone in hand interviewed jockey Johnny Velasquez, a four-time Kentucky Derby winner, minutes after the horse he was riding, Medina Spirit, crossed the finish line ahead of the 18 other horses in the race.

I imagine the young woman had no idea that 51 years ago, another woman, my wife, Kay Wheeler Moore, Baylor Journalism, broke the gender barrier in the Derby’s sacrosanct all-male press room at Churchill Downs.

Kay, then a reporter for United Press International’s Louisville bureau, was drafted to be the first female reporter when she was granted press credentials to cover the 1970 Kentucky Derby. That was the first race in which another woman, Diane Crump, broke the gender barrier as the first female jockey ever in the Derby.

For a few breathtaking moments today, when Mandaloun, who came in second place, appeared to be overtaking Medina Spirit for first place, we thought history might be repeating itself. In 1970, underrated Dust Commander came from behind and took the Derby crown much to the astonishment of the crowd.

When Kay entered the hallowed press room for the first time and received her press credentials, it marked the end of nearly a century of white male dominance in the Derby press corps.

Amazing now how a seed that was planted 51 years ago has taken root and seems so natural today with female reporters darting everywhere at this year’s 147th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Below are a few photos documenting Kay’s journey.

We visited the Churchill Downs museum in August 2019 where I took this picture of Kay in front of the picture of Diane Crump, the first female jockey ever in the Kentucky Derby. Because of Diane, Kay was drafted by UPI to break the gender barrier in the all-male Churchill Downs Press Box for the 1970 Kentucky Derby.

Unimaginable in 1970, the video of the 1970 Kentucky Derby is online today and easily accessible to the public. Our granddaughter texted just before the Derby today that she had called up the 1970 Derby video to see what Kay and I had personally witnessed 51 years ago.

Our friend Karin Wiseman of Karinwisemancollection in downtown Garland used Kay’s memorabilia of that long ago Derby to fashion this beautiful necklace, which Kay wears every Derby Day.

This unidentified NBC TV reporter, left, probably never realized that the gender barrier in the all-male press corps at the Kentucky Derby was broken 51 years ago by retired Garland journalist Kay Moore, paving the way for dozens of female reporters today in the Derby press corps.

I snapped this photo of Kay in front of our TV today on which we watched the 147th Kentucky Derby. Kay remarked, “You realize they had not even celebrated their 100th Derby when we were there.” Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attended the 100th Derby.


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