A Brief History of the Derby City Classic
Dave Thomson
Jan. 18, 2018
Dennis Orcollo danced through the field last year (Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson - Mediumpool.com)
Dennis Orcollo danced through the field last year (Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson - Mediumpool.com)
In celebration of The Derby City Classic’s 20th anniversary, we thought that you avid pool fans might be interested in a few tidbits of its unique history, statistics, and hear what the sone of the past champions have to say about it all.
 
The “Derby” was sired by Diamond Billiards’ Greg Sullivan in 1999. 200 plus entrants vying for titles in three disciplines; Bank Pool, One Pocket, and 9-Ball graced Louisville KY’s Executive Inn. Due to DCC’s irrepressible growth, by 2009, the action was upgraded to the grander Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino, just across the border, in Elizabeth, IN.
 
Today, more than double that original amount are expected to participate. That stat makes it the most successful, competitively attended pro pool tournament in the world.
 
Greg’s ambition grew from experiencing the Johnson City hustler’s convention at the tender age of 16. He was immediately smitten, in fact, he still has his original entry ticket!
 
It was that passion for pool that eventually drove him to create the Diamond pool table to his exacting, standardized specifications that would catapult pool from a game to a sport.
 
The table’s success allowed Greg, with Chad in the background managing the numbers, to create a pool tournament which would attract the full gamut of cuemen. He wanted those who were funded by gambling on themselves and those who excelled in the immediacy of tournament action.
 
Sullivan beamed as he stated without the glimmer of a boast, ”The most satisfying compliment I’ve ever received is that DCC is like Johnson City…on steroids.”
 
2001 All Around Champion (also know as the Master of the Table) Shannon Daulton concurs. “Once a year, everyone from World Champions to the toughest money players on the earth come together for nine days of torture to see who comes out on top.”
 
Five time All Around Champion Efren Reyes dubs the Derby  his favorite tournament, ever. ”I got to spend time with my friends, now icons, like Earl and Nick (Varner). And, more recently, new friends I’ve made in all the events. It’s always been a gathering of the best players in the world.”
 
Another attraction; the moolah. Where else can one pool player, in one tournament, get the opportunity to cash $76,000? And that doesn’t include the extra curricular activities; nudge, nudge.
 
If he, or she, were to win the Bank Pool: $10,000, and the One Pocket; $12,000, then the 9-Ball; $16,000. All those points awarded for each win earn an additional $20,000 as the aforementioned Master of the Table.
 
Plus, let’s not forget DCC’s auxiliary enticements: The Diamond BIG Foot Challenge: $16,000, and the George Fels Memorial 14.1/Straight Pool, instigated by Billiards Digest columnist Bob Jewett and currently hosted by Dennis Walsh and Bill Maropulos: $8,000.
 
It all adds up to $76,000. That’s not a bad week’s wages.
 
In its evolution over the decades, as if the 9 days of dawn to dawn dueling weren’t murderous enough, more entertainment was added.
 
The Action and Entertainment" (A&E) commemorates the legendary “St.Louis” Louis Robert respected for his mesmerizing ability and high-roller attitude. As a matter of interest, in 2010, the entrancing Jeanette Lee robbed ‘em!
 
The event that is dearly missed was Steve Booth’s One Pocket and Bank Pool Hall of Fame Dinner. It was perhaps the most fun-filled night in Pool–never mind the Derby!
 
To hear the inductees be introduced by pool’s spellbinding raconteurs like the late Grady Mathews and Freddy “The Beard” Bentivegna was known to reduce some of these bad boys to tears.
 
The good news is that–it’s back! Jeremy Jones and the late Eugene 'Clem' Metz will be honored for One Pocket. And truly precocious Keith McCready for the “Lifetime Pool in Action Award! 
Wednesday, 24th, Jan. Doors open ar 6pm
 
It was in 2010 that the always entertaining Banks Ring Game was introduced.
 
In 2014, in celebration of the Diamond’s new 10’ table, the BIG Foot 10-ball Challenge was inaugurated. Always looking for innovation, Greg’s methodology was that the challenge of negotiating a 50 sq. ft. playing surface with the standard tight, pro-cut pockets would determine, indisputably, the best player.
 
The Derby City Classic All Around Champion is also the most bad-ass title to hold. Taking it means that you kick ass, not just in one of the disciplines, but at least 2, and arguably, all three. Hence, the All Around Champion is also recognized as Master of the Table, that’s why both titles are inscribed on the newly created, very elegant, crystal obelisk being presented to the 2018 points winner. Smaller obelisks will go to the winners of all 5 events.
 
Another interesting feature is that DCC is the only pool tournament where it costs more to enter the bleachers than it does to enter the arena. So, if you intend to attend the greatest pool show on earth and stand in awe of the international field of competitors, it will behoove you to play; It will certainly improve your speed plus, generate a tale or two for your grandchildren–especially, if you’re lucky enough to draw a champion!
 
In DCC’s first ever incarnation in 1999, Efren won the inaugural All Around event. The turn of the century, Dee Adkins had the honor, It took Shannon Daulton until 2001 to create his most treasured memory, in 2002 Jose Parica took the praise until Larry Nevel reveled in it in 2003. In 2004: The Return of Reyes: in the 4 years thru 2007, Efren was the “Master” three times: He “repeated” ’04 and ’05 and titled again in 2007. Incidentally, he won the One Pocket in all 4 of those years. Jason Miller interrupted in 2006.  2008 had fellow Filipino Francisco Bustamante, 2009, the brutal banker, John Brumback. In, 2010, guess who? Yup, Efren again! 2011 announced Shane Van Boening coming in to his own. He back-to backed thru ’12, The Filipino invasion was resuscitated as Francisco Bustamante titled again in ’13, Dennis Orcollo dominated 2014 then, Alex Pagulayan  paralyzed everyone, even Efren, in 2015 and ’16. Dennis danced thru the field again in 2017.
 
Alex reminisced, “Without a doubt, my best memory was winning the One Pocket in 2015. What I like about the DCC is that I really get to play some pool, I mean lots of pool, and in all those different discipline.”
 
John Brumback concurred, “I’ve had no greater feeling than when they announced my first win in Banks, then, the second I heard that I was the All Around Champion, wow, nothin’ better.”
 
So, in conclusion, who is the Master of the Table? Well, the stats don’t lie. As was once stated, “You can have your own opinion but, you can’t have your own facts!”
 
When you add up Efren’s attendance record, consider that he competed in only 11 years of the Derby and was the All Around Champion in 5 of them.That seems like an almost impossible statistic to repeat. Even in 2017, in his 60s, he was still pounding an Accu-Stats’ 9-Ball Total Performance Average (TPA) in the 890s and 900s.
 
We’ll see what future generations will accomplish as we are sure of one thing, DCC will be there for decades to come. DCC XXX will create some interesting search results.
 
Maybe Shannon said it best, “We really have to thank Greg Sullivan for taking such a chance 20 years ago. To this day, in my opinion, it’s our Greatest Show on Earth.”
 
Experience it for yourself: Get there, there is still time. Or view on accu-stats.com