Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mud was deep and rain was wet.

You may have heard that in Louisville Kentucky the 136th Kentucky Derby day was a rainy day. The race itself was run in the early evening. Just as the twenty horses in the race were walking from the paddock to the gate with all their trainers and owners, the sun came out. This didn't mean the men in their thousand dollar suits and the women in their four inch Jimmy Cho's weren't walking through six inches of deep mud. The jockeys sat atop their chosen horse, clean and dry, while an outrider horse road by a livered helper held their harness. At this point the only hope any of them had of remaining clean was if they were lucky to break from the gate and lead all the way to the finish line. No one was so lucky.

The winning jockey Calvin Borel told a reporter before the race that he was going to wear five sets of goggles and hoped that was enough. He is famously known as "Borail" meaning he rides the rail to win. It is a good thing we don't get a clear picture of this until after the race. He rides that so expertly that it is estimated he's less than three inches from that rail. That is dangerous if you're not talented. Calvin once again was the most talented and won aboard Super Saver.

I had money on the horse. For it is exciting watching a horse I've made a small bet on, run and win in a hard fought race. It is hard to describe the feeling. It is odd too as I wasn't much of a horse racing fan until a few years ago. I owe that vice to my friend Reggie.

We split a bet on every horse in the race. I had suggested this bet in years past and Reggie thought it was wasteful. I always bet a total of $50 on the Derby, spreading my money amongst the horses, but I've never bet every horse. This year he suggested it and I immediately said, "Yes!" He said, "That way we know we will have the winner." I also bet the winner $2 across the board. It paid $32.80. Then there was the $9 from splitting the bet with Reggie. This is the best I've done in the Derby. With the place and show horse my total result was $68.90 for the day.

I know people who pick a horse and think about betting but never do. My sister was one of those. She posted on Facebook that she had the winner, but never placed a bet. I'm not sure why not but I'm not going to question her because I'm not sure I could keep from laughing. I know I'm not nice about this.

The famous and nearly so, schlep into town and after they sober up, schlep out of town. As with other humongous touristy events in other places, public relations professionals and party planners convince them to attend the Derby Week parties and walk into Churchill Downs on a red carpet. They are resplendent in finery and have entourages trailing behind. Local news heads confront them with a microphone and camera streaming live interviews and basically ask, "Who are you betting in the big race?" It's mind numbing. There have been some genuinely famous people attend this thing but this year, it was a herd of B-List reality show has been's and the fading famous. Maybe I don't watch enough television. The one person I knew was Diane Lane, who was one of the Grand Marshal's in the Pegasus Parade, Thursday.
Tomorrow all we who live in Louisville will return to our lives and turn our attention to politics and the latest natural or unnatural disaster in the world. Indiana holds its primary election Tuesday and I look forward to no longer having to endure their endless commercials. No worry. Kentucky's primary is May 18th and I'm sure all those vacant TV spots will be taken up by our candidates.

Rain continued after the races last night. Having gone to bed with a book at the usual time, I was awakened by the cat about 1 a.m. She seldom sleeps near me but last night she was either on my feet on perched on the back of the divan watching. Thunder storms raged and I finally turned on the light and read. By 5:30 a.m. it was still raining and the television was a blast of angry red, which meant storms were moving through the state with flash floods. It is still raining now. Grass is already over my shins in the yard. Maybe renting a rake and hay bailer would be a good idea.


  1. I'm conflicted when it comes to horse racing. I've been to the races at Hot Springs a few times. I almost always watch the Triple Crown races too. But, at the same time there's a lot about the racing industry that disturbs me. I find it to be rather abusive to the horses. And then there's the corruption that never seems to go away.

    I guess it's like any other sport though. A combination of good and bad.

  2. Glad you won a little money at the track. Hope you guys stay dry.

  3. Jay: I understand. Although I've lived in the city for over forty years, I have a farmer's attitude about horses and cattle, etc. Horses are treated well here; at least in recent years when retired racers are taken in by families. The jockey's often end up hurt in the spills but they don't shoot them if they break a leg.

    Keith: We've got downpours all day today. Sundays are usually a race day, but not today.

  4. My dad used to take us kids to Hollywood Park,and as an adult I've made the rounds of just about every track in my area.
    I love it!
    Small bets,spread out over the day,and it's always a good time...Win some,lose some.

  5. we have the same plague in Australia, its called the Melbourne cup. the similarities between the two are very familiar.

    i usually take a mystery trifector, if it wins it wins big if i loose i'm not guilty of picking the horse that didn't win

    the day is a public holiday in melbourne and the rest of us just waste half a day at work and spend the rest drinking...

    I missed it last year and will miss it again this year,

    i really dont give a shit.

  6. I've not lived all over the world, so my view of things is here. As a Kentuckian I love the festivities and it is a large party for us locals and all others for two weeks. People count down the number of weeks or days till Derby.

  7. Glad you won this time around. I don't place bets, nor do I gamble. I rarely pick winners :)

    My friend was telling me how fascinating the Kentucky Derby is, but thank you for describing it in detail. It really sounds like a good time !

  8. Retired thoroughbreds live next door to me, actually. They are allowed to graze and laze and are treated well. However, I know people in the biz and they have admitted racing is as fixed as it gets (at least at the smaller tracks, can't speak for CD). My sister lived in Louisville for 10 yrs before moving back last year and absolutely misses Derby week. She loved it!

  9. I had a friend who was a retired horse trainer. He said he'd never bet on the races without inside knowledge. Many horses are entered not to win, but to block a specific horse.

    I guess having a flutter, especially on the Derby, is fun. But, yeah, in the long run it's an insider's game.

    Good post.

  10. You could always buy a goat. Cheers Charlene!!

  11. I am not a gambler, but I like your strategy of betting on every horse. Have you been to the Kentucky Horse Park? I thought it was cool that they have some retired racers there, living a pretty good life.

  12. Wolynski: Whether it's good strategy or not, I like to have the winner and I like to holler when they're running. I don't gamble as a form of entertainment on a daily basis though.

    Matt: My daddy bought a few goats when I was a kid. He has stomach problems and someone told him goat milk helped that. There's a picture of me with my favorite goat. Maybe I'll write about that some day.

    SA Woman: I've never been to the Horse Park. It is a lovely place. There's also a bed and breakfast near there called "The Castle" that took 30 years to build.


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