Even the Kentucky Derby Can't Outrun Power Outages

May 11, 2016

By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

It's one of the biggest equestrian events of the year in the United States, and the Kentucky Derby draws plenty of attention from all over the world. According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, however, that famous race might well have been stopped at the gate as a power outage struck Fairmount Park, where the Derby is run.

While the power outage—which hit about an hour before the running—only had so much impact, it was still impact enough to take notice of. The race ran, the lights stayed on and the public address system was up and running thanks to backup generators. However, Fairmount's betting machines and television sets showing odds did go out and stayed out, meaning that some who had been hoping to place a wager on Derby favorite horse Nyquist were unable to do so. Given that Nyquist won, this becomes an even more bitter pill to swallow.

Fairmount spokesman Jon Sloane noted that most of the money that would have been bet on Nyquist had already been done, and that anyone who had a winning ticket but was unable to cash it in due to the power outage could do so throughout the remainder of the Fairmount season, running up to Labor Day.

This demonstrates a valuable point about the need to keep backup power supplies on hand for any operation that faces the public or has a necessary business component. While the horses may not need power to run, the entire infrastructure does, and turning away potential customers—bettors or otherwise—isn't a great way to do business. Materials like uninterruptible power supplies can be helpful here, providing those last bursts of backup power that can be used to let workers save data and shut down a computer properly, and larger-scale systems—as demonstrated so ably at Fairmount Park—can allow a system to keep running even when the power goes out. That kind of flexibility helps encourage repeat business, as customers know that storms and power outages likely won't shut down operations. It could mean the difference between a workday hampered and a workday lost outright.

Being ready for a power outage requires some advance planning, a bit of sacrifice—power generation systems can sometimes be expensive if purchased all at once—and a clear awareness that it's not smart to depend on one source for anything, particularly something as valuable as power. Backup systems are a smart idea, and one just about anyone can put into play. Even the Kentucky Derby can't outrun a power outage, so being ready for one instead is the best plan of attack.

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