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'And they're off'—local to help crown Derby winner

April 30, 2014 - The Kentucky Derby has been run 139 times. And since 1936, the Kentucky National Guard been assisting with the annual Run for the Roses.

This year a local will be a part of the May event.

Goodrich native Cody Petit's trek to the winner's circle of the Churchill Downs—the home of the Kentucky Derby—began in 2010.

Petit joined the Michigan National Guard in 2010 following graduation from Goodrich High School. That fall he began taking classes at Eastern Michigan University, pursuing a career in criminal justice.

"I became interested in forensics after taking a class at Goodrich (high school)," said Petit.

After attending one year of classes at EMU, Petit was offered a partial scholarship for wrestling at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. Petit, a standout wrestler and member of the 2008-2009 back to-back state championship team, joined his sister Kayla, who also attended the school. However, Petit, now a sophomore, will continue his study of criminal justice with a minor in biology.

"I also changed from the Michigan to the Kentucky National Guard," he said. "It was a lot of paperwork, but it went quite well. The Army here in Kentucky is not all that different, the weather's warmer and everyone fishes down here. They also listen to country music all the time. Drives me crazy."

To complement his future career in law enforcement, Petit was assigned to the Kentucky National Guard 617th Military Police, based in Richmond, Ky.

According to Kentucky's military history, the goal of providing a safe and secure weekend at Churchill Downs has always been the focus of the Kentucky National Guard, along with agencies such as the Louisville Metro Police, the Jefferson County Sherriff's Office and the Kentucky State Police.

"Actually, I've never been to a horse race before," laughed Petit. "My MP unit—three of us— has been assigned to guard the trophy in the winner's circle," he said. "I will be standing by the trophy up until it's handed to the winner after the race."

The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown and is followed by the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

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