There was tremendous potential among the serious contenders going into Kentucky Derby 133 but there was no star attraction, not even undefeated Curlin. But there is one coming out, maybe more than one. Still, there were no compelling reasons for the NBC Sports overnight ratings to improve 12 percent over last year's unless, of course, one considers the Barbaro Effect.

Barbaro was one of the Derby's pre-race storylines and there's no doubt his spirit helped to raise consciousness among racing fans and sports-event fans, especially those that occasionally enjoy a slice of Americana on the side.

Nice to know in this age that Americans can still agree and feel good about one thing.

There were NBA and NHL playoffs to divert Derby focus, not to mention New York Yankees' pitcher Chien-Ming Wangs flirtation with a perfect game. Despite all this, the Derby telecast drew strong ratings that will be even better when national ratings are released officially on Thursday.

For the race portion of the two-hour telecast, 13.8 million people watched the Kentucky Derby nationally, up 7% from last year. Final national ratings were a strong 8.8 with a 21 share, the percentage of sets in use. This was a 5% increase over 2006.

The feeling here is that there will be a stronger level of interest in this year's Preakness, too, now that many believe Street Sense is a viable Triple Crown candidate and that Derby runnerup Hard Spun has an excellent chance to avenge his Derby defeat In Baltimore.

Pimlico Race Course, of course, was the scene of Barbaro's terribly freakish break-down in last year's race.