Rick Howlett

Rick has been a member of the WFPL News team since 2001 and has covered numerous beats and events over the years.   Most recently he’s been tracking the Indiana General Assembly and the region’s passion for sports, especially college basketball.

J. Tyler Franklin


  After being declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby by disqualification, Country House will not run in the Preakness, ending any chance this year at another Triple Crown.

Wikimedia Commons

Former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino has returned to the game. 
Pitino will coach a team overseas.
Pitino is the new head coach of the Greek professional team Panathinaikos which plays in the Euroleague. 
The Greek team fired its previous coach last week following its fifth loss in seven games. 
The 66-year-old Pitino was fired by Louisville more than a year ago after the school was implicated in a federal corruption investigation of college basketball. 


In college football, it’s homecoming weekend at the University of Kentucky, as the Wildcats take on Vanderbilt. 
UK is 5 and 1 on the season and resumes play after a week off. The Commodores are 2 and 4 but UK coach Mark Stoops says they’re a better team than their record suggests. 

Stoops told WFPL: "You see the team that’s very hungry, that plays very hard, and well-coached. They’re just looking for that breakthrough.” 

UK and Vandy kick off at 7:30pm tomorrow in Lexington. 


The owners of 21c Museum Hotels are selling a majority interest in their company to the multinational AccorHotels group. 

AccorHotels announced Tuesday that it’s acquiring 85 percent of 21c from founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. The purchase price is $51 million. 

Brown and Wilson established the flagship 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville in 2006. The company now operates eight properties in seven states, including one in Lexington, with three more in development.

Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com/Kentucky.com

Four Kentucky Wildcats and a U of L Cardinal were among those picked in Thursday's National Basketball Association draft. 

University of Louisville

Two University of Louisville coaches are getting contract revisions. The U of L Athletic Association board Tuesday approved the upgrades for women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz  and baseball coach Dan McDonnell. 

A former coal executive who's running as a Republican for U.S. Senate after serving a prison sentence has unleashed a political ad that takes swipes at what he called "China people" and calls the Senate majority leader "Cocaine Mitch." 

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is seeking the West Virginia seat now held by Sen. Joe Manchin, but his ad disparages Kentucky GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell.


Justify has been made the early 3-1 favorite for the Kentucky Derby, with Europe-based Mendelssohn the 5 to 1 second choice in a full field of 20 horses.

Trained by four-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, Justify drew the No. 7 post at the Churchill Downs pill pull.

“You know, seven’s fine, but he still has to break well. If he doesn’t break, it doesn’t matter what hole you’re in so, I’m happy with that,” Baffert said.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won last year with Always Dreaming, has a leading four horses in the field.

Churchill Downs

Construction is officially underway on a new venture by Churchill Downs racetrack. It’s investing $60 million in a historical racing facility in Louisville, called Derby City Gaming. Officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site Wednesday. 

The facility, at the old Trackside—or Sports Spectrum site—off Poplar Level Road, will house 600 historical racing machines that allow patrons to bet on videos of previously run thoroughbred races.


The University of Louisville’s accreditation is no longer under probation.  The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, announced today  that U of L had done enough to have the probation lifted.


Former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino has filed a breach of contract suit against the university’s athletic association. 

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Muhammad Ali will be laid to rest in Louisville, Ky., later this week. Today his hometown celebrated with a festival that focused on children and their dreams for the future. Rick Howlett of member station WFPL reports.

The Kentucky Derby will be run for the 142nd consecutive year Saturday at Churchill Downs.  Two brothers from Louisiana will try to make history as the first trainer-jockey siblings to capture the Run for the Roses. 

Three time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Kent Desormeaux will be aboard Exaggerator, the early second choice in the 20 horse field, with odds of 8 to 1. Exaggerator is trained by Desormeaux’s brother, Keith. 

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.



Kentucky lawmakers have entered the final stretch of the 2015 General Assembly, with hundreds of bills awaiting action before the final gavel falls later this month.

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., maker of Jim Beam and owner of other popular bourbon brands, including Maker's Mark.

A longtime Kentucky bourbon maker who’s credited with helping spark the industry’s comeback has been laid to rest. Elmer T. Lee died last week in Frankfort at the age of 93. Lee was the master distiller emeritus at Buffalo Trace Distillery. His most notable contribution to the bourbon industry came in 1984, when he introduced Blanton’s, a single-barrel brand of bourbon.   The introduction sparked a trend toward small-batch bourbons that revived the industry.  Read more..

University of Louisville fans have had a lot to cheer about lately — and not just basketball.

Monday's big victory by Louisville's men's basketball team over Michigan is just the latest success for the school and for an athletic department that is quickly becoming one of the country's most admired.

In January, the football team upset fourth-ranked Florida to win the Sugar Bowl, and coach Charlie Strong turned down a lucrative offer from the University of Tennessee to continue rebuilding the Louisville program.

In the back room of Muth's Candies in Louisville, Ky., Jonathon Skaggs and Bobby Masterson are busy dipping marshmallows into a copper pot.

The pot is filled with a top-secret hot caramel mixture. Skaggs and Masterson tap the excess golden caramel off each candy before placing it on a board to cool.

Masterson says it's a rhythm repeated hundreds of times each day.

"They're good ... they're a big-time seller in here in Kentucky, especially right here in Louisville," Masterson says. "There's a lot of people that come and get 'em."

As part of Curious Derby, we’ve reported on horse safety, injuries and even deaths while racing. But this caused Rob Harris from Louisville to wonder: "What happens to race horses once they retire, winners or not?" WFPL’s Ashlie Stevens went to a farm that specifically houses older thoroughbreds to find out the answer.