LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Whit Beckman wasn't always thinking of working with horses, but he was around them a lot as a kid growing up in Louisville.
The St. Xavier High School graduate got his first job at Churchill Downs and has worked for various trainers over the years, including Todd Pletcher. He has spent much of the last couple of decades at tracks in New York and Florida.
"My dad is an equine veterinarian so I was raised around horses," Beckman said. "But I didn't really get serious or think that it was an option until I was probably, you know, 21, 22, a couple of years out of high school."
He's been an assistant for Chad Brown for about five years and was a natural to head up the Kentucky base of the operations that Brown started a year ago.
"It's always nice to go home and work the job that your passionate about and to be able to be around family and friends," Beckman said.
"He's been terrific and he's been with us a number of years," Brown added. "Of course he has a lot of experience prior to working with me, and then being a Louisville native is an added bonus. I know he appreciates being back home."
Beckman worked for Pletcher in 2010 when Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby. But he was back at Saratoga watching it on TV. Being there in person for a Derby triumph would be a another experience altogether. A Louisville native has yet to train a Kentucky Derby winner, but Beckham is bidding for his second hometown Kentucky Derby triumph with the colt Highly Motivated.
"There's so many things that I would enjoy being a part of with a Derby win," Brown said. "Him being a Louisville native would be one of them for me to see, being so closely involved with this horse. So we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed, and hopefully, we have some hometown luck."
Beckman tries to keep things on an even keel and not make it just about results. He is glad for this Derby opportunity.
"Obviously, there's disappointment," Beckman said of what can be a cruel game. "But to be around horses like this, to run in the Kentucky Derby, I got nothing to complain about."
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