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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The history of the Kentucky Derby collided today with one of the most important events in the history of the world, as some special visitors got a close-up look at the Derby colt, Normandy Invasion.
When it comes to the Derby horse, Normandy Invasion, the name is more than just a name. For these men, the Normandy Invasion was a matter of life and death.
They were there, nearly 70 years ago; D-Day. The turning point in the battle for Europe in World War II.
"It represents the greatness of the United States of America. And, you know, we're getting on 70 years now, and the young chaps have forgotten," said Normandy veteran Alan Reeves.
That's why the owner of Normandy Invasion, Rick Porter, brought these heroes of Normandy to Churchill Downs; to see the horse named for the battle they won, and to remind us all of their sacrifice.
"It's terrific after all these years to have something named after what you did that many years ago. It's great," said Normandy veteran Ray Woods.
"We're proud of what we did. So we're here because of that horse and what it represents on D-Day," said Reeves.
Porter says he was inspired after a trip to the beaches of Normandy.
"These guys have given us our freedom and the liberty that we have," he said.
For Bill Wilch, this was an especially emotional experience.
"I brought my wife's picture with me because she always wanted to come here. She passed away before we could get here, and then he comes up with this. Unbelievable," he said.
All four men will be in the stands on Derby Day, cheering on this horse; their horse.
"He's got to win. Just has to. If he's a lucky as the rest of us here, he'll win," said Woods.
"There's no such thing as a sure thing in horse racing, but we're going to win this race for Normandy Invasion. Wait and see," said Reeves.
If Normandy Invasion has even half the courage of these men, it will be in the Winner's Circle on Derby Day.