FORT MYERS, Fla. - One of the horses running in the Kentucky Derby is owned by a southwest Florida man. The horse's name is Uncle Sigh, and WINK News found out his owner is racing for a lot more than the roses. He's racing for wounded American heroes.
When we met Chip McEwen, before he left for the Kentucky Derby, it was clear, he was one busy guy. "Very tense! Excited! Hoping the horse stays sounds and healthy," he said.
That horse is Uncle Sigh. He's ready to run for the roses in Saturday's 140th Kentucky Derby.
"My trainer called me when he was working. 'I just got goosebumps working this horse, he's extremely talented.' He said 'we have a horse that will go to the derby'," said McEwen.
Uncle Sigh proved he has the heart and stamina to run the "fastest two minutes in sports." His owner has heart as well: a passion for wounded veterans he never knew had, until he saw something on a flight home to Fort Myers.
"They said 'would everyone please wait, we have a wounded war veteran coming off a plane.' So when I heard that, at 51, I thought Vietnam veteran. I thought me or somebody my age or older. Off comes a young kid. His dad is walking him off the plane. He was 28 or 29 years old. He had been hit in the head with an ied," said McEwen.
"Here comes his wife with a 5 year old girl and 18 month old baby, and his mother. If you asked me, I would of said 'sure I give to veterans' but I really wasn't doing that much. So we decided after that, to change the name of our stable to Wounded Warrior Stables," said McEwen.
Uncle Sigh will be sporting the Wounded Warrior Stable colors: yellow and purple, symbolic of the Purple Heart. McEwen donates 10 percent of his race earnings to organizations that support veterans.
He's also invited wounded veterans and their families to come with him to the Kentucky Derby.
"There's nothing more beautiful than a racehorse doing what they love to do," said McEwen. "We think he's going to win! That's what every owner thinks!"
This is McEwen's first horse to run the Kentucky Derby.
The purse is a minimum of $2 million.
Uncle Sigh's odds are 30-1.