The communication department offers the special topics class that focuses on the important relationship between the Kentucky Derby and the media as well as the race’s historical importance to Louisville.
A devout horse racing fan, Reed has missed covering only two Kentucky Derby races since 1966 and is considered to be one of the most knowledgeable and experienced writers when it comes to the race.
“I hope the students learn about how the Derby got to be the world’s most famous horse race and why it’s important to our history and culture in Kentucky,” Reed said of the class.
Junior Megan Devine is among his students. She said she expects to increase her knowledge of the history of the “greatest two minutes in sports.”
“I love the class! We have been able to learn so much about the history of this amazing event,” said Devine, who described her love for the Kentucky Derby as perhaps being greater than her love for Christmas. “The class can provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn so much about the Kentucky Derby from Billy Reed.”
While students will benefit from Reed’s expertise on horse racing, he brings more than his knowledge to the class. Guest speakers from the horse racing and media worlds share their experiences and knowledge with students. Among them are such notable writers as Tim Sullivan, Craig Ewing and Jennie Rees from the Courier-Journal as well as Darren Rogers of Churchill Downs and Angie Fenton of The Voice-Tribune. Students also will take a field trip to the Kentucky Derby Museum.
This isn’t Reed’s first go-round in the teaching world. His past experience includes teaching at UofL and at Indiana University and running the Academy for Character in Sport at Georgetown College.
Reed has worked for many publications, including the Courier-Journal in Louisville, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Sports Illustrated; and he has contributed to many books about horse racing.
He also was a strong contributor to the development of the Equine Industry program at UofL’s College of Business, helping to start the program alongside then-Dean Robert Taylor in the late 1980s.