Monday, May 7, 2012
Derby 138: Winners and Losers
LOSER: Those that realized after entering they could have snuck in about 270% more alcohol than they did. It was the most lax security I've ever seen at a Derby. Apparently 9/11 is far enough in the rear mirror that guards are again comfortable ogling women instead of inspecting for contraband booze and umbrellas. At peak flow at Gate 3, literally no one was being searched. I was really kicking myself the first time I bought an $8 dollar beer.
WINNER: Bodemeister. Helluva performance from Baffert's horse, who ran as impressive a race as a colt can without wearing the roses. I don't know if you can really attribute human qualities like "ballsy" onto a horse, but if you can, Bodemeister's run was ballsy.
LOSER: Bodemeister's jockey. After watching the race on replay a few times, there's little doubt that Bodemeister was the best horse on Saturday. I know they tried to make nice about it afterwards, but I think the Bodemeister team blew it.
They had "THE" horse and he was ready. For the life of me I can't figure what jockey Mike Smith was thinking setting the blistering pace he did, even leaving frontrunners like Hansen and Trinniberg in the dust, when he had good break from the gate and no reason to (compared to Union Rags whose race was over 5-seconds after it began). It seems so dumb to try and buck history and conventional wisdom by going for a wire-to-wire victory. In a quality 20-horse field it's never going to happen.
It reminded me of "Arrested Devlopment" when the closeted Tobias suggests to Lindsay they repair their doomed marriage by trying an "open" relationship. He suggested it to his therapy patients in the past, and Lindsay asked, "Did it work for those people?"
"No, it never does. I mean, people delude themselves into thinking it might...But it might just work for us".
If I were a trainer this would be my first and only instruction to my jockey on Derby: If you're in the lead after 3/4ths mile, you're fired.
WINNER: Mary J. Blige, who crushed the national anthem, and did the near impossible of almost matching "My Old Kentucky Home" for goosebumps.
LOSER: The classy woman in the Paddock-area whose otherwise expensive Derby ensemble didn't include underwear, which she promptly proved to everyone while resting on the grass, too inebriated to remember her mother's lessons about sitting like a lady.
WINNERS: All the men within 25 feet of that area. Giggity.
LOSER: My buddy theHoff, who has made a killing in the past using the laws of supply and demand with rain ponchos. When it pours, you get a 1200% return on your investment. When it doesn't, you're stuck with a shit-load of ponchos.
WINNERS: Those that chose function over fashion selecting Derby clothes to battle the heat and humidity. I learned the hard way there is nothing classy about sweating through your nice fancy pastel dress shirt.
LOSER: The designer of the Churchill Downs renovation. Sorry, Dougie Downer here, but I just can't get past it. One of the best vistas in sport, the Twin Spires, overshadowed by a Scranton-like shopping mall. Damn shame.
WINNERS: The group of guys that made tee-shirts that read on front:
"Our buddy decided to stay home to spend more quality time with his girlfiend. Call him, text him, or email him to tell him what a loser he is at...."
...and then listed all of his personal contact information on the back. I sure hope that guy has unlimited texts, because crowds were gathering, phones were drawn; and he was getting blown up. Wait, no I don't.
LOSER: Hansen owner Dr. Kendall Hansen. There's nothing pimpin' about paying your assistants triple-overtime to dress like bimbos and shadow you around. You're not edgy, you're not the "bad boy" of horseracing. You're a douche.
And while we're at it, I'm going to throw I'll Have Another owner J. Reddam in here as well. Call me preachy if you wish, but it's hard to get all weepy in support of an owner who made his fortune operating a predatory loan company.
WINNER: Mario Gutierrez, the winning jockey who took his horse on a beautiful trip, effortlessly weaving through traffic, never forcing, saving his colt for the stretch. That did not look like a "fluke ride". I expect that was the beginning of a long and successful career from the young jockey.
LOSERS: The out-of-towners I sent in the complete opposite direction as they frantically tried to find their seats before the race. I don't know what it is about me, but I get approached all the time by out-of-towners and newbies for inside info about the track. Not purposefully, but I don't think I've once provided them with accurate information. That's my bad, guys.
WINNER: The Santa Fe Mexican restaurant. I'm a tad afraid of blowing my cover here, but I think this blog is low-profile enough to divulge my secret. The only way to spend an hour and a half post-Derby as the crowds rush by is at that pink Mexican restaurant off 3rd street. Amazingly, considering its garish exterior and the fact most track-goers are hungry enough to chew stop signs by then, this quality and authentic joint sits largely unnoticed.
Rather than languishing in traffic, I've been going for years now as part of a post-Derby ritual and I have always been seated immediately. And their large ground-beef suiza (for $5.75!) after a long day at the track tastes like manna dipped in ambrosia. I'm letting you in on this secret CL readers, but don't tell anyone else, least of all those bastards at CardChronicle.
LOSERS: Almost admirable in a way, I suppose, but the authors of the stream of C-A-T-S CATS! CATS! CATS! cheers echoing in the infield underpass and other places throughout the day. This is an area I wholly concede as a UofL fan, that sole devotion to a (non-original) cheer at random moments that have nothing to do with your team. Congrats on the accomplishment UK fans, a national title is awesome, I understand why you're feeling good. But seriously, every once in awhile it's okay to let down that guarded persona and try to behave like a normal person for a few hours.
WINNER: Horseracing. As pure sport, there are others that provide more action and, obviously, more human drama. But as an event, there is nothing that holds a candle to Derby, and nothing like the spectacle of horseracing. So much has been made about its demise in our collective American consciousness, so many eulogies written, that it is easy to write Derby off as a one-day anomaly.
I've thought that too, in the past, but for the first time in a long time, I'm beginning to sense a turnaround.
Here's a similar situation for simile. For many years the patron drink of the Commonwealth, bourbon, was described in much the same way as our patron sport (other the college basketball). Bourbon was passe, stuffy, stoic, a drink your grandfather had a bottle of in his cupboard but was rarely touched by anyone under the age of 25.
Now, as profit margins can attest, bourbon is one of the hottest alcohol products in the country. All ages cannot get enough of it; the craftsmenship, the tradition, the realness of it. The bourbon business is booming like never before. It's become cool again.
And so it should be. It is cool. The craftmenship is impressive, the subtelties of traditions are interesting, the taste unparalleled.
Just like a day spent at the track.
In a culture that's become so surface-sanitized, there is something refreshing about the gambling and the cigar smoke, the ripped-up tickets and the rubbing of shoulders between the patrician and the pathetic. When the rest of the world becomes sanitized, the unabashed unsanitariness of horseracing becomes a draw. And it is drawing again.
Call it a "Madmen" influence, call it a symptom of pop culture that's been running on confection sugar for too long, call it a concoction of my own (albeit still hungover) imagination; but I do detect an undercurrent from those seeking something more substantive.
This sport, this spectacle, as a way to spend an afternoon is getting buzz right now with younger generations. They may not be laying the heavy bets, but they're interested again. And that's huge.
I had extended family come to town for Derby this year from Milwaukee, and seeing my younger cousins, so precocious and cute, learning how odds work, the numbers of Win-Place-Show, was truly special.
Any Kentuckian worth his or her salt, I believe, carries a bit of an obligation to pass it along, or pay it forward, or to do whatever he or she can to ensure the future of Bluegrass horseracing.
I write this not as Democrat or Republican or Rent is Too Damn High-er, but as somone with nothing more at stake than to further the heritage spoken of above. Please contact House Speaker David Williams at any of these outlets with a brief testimonial on the importance of the horseracing tradition to our Commonwealth, and how his stance on casino slots at racetracks puts that future in jeopardy.
Posted by Mr. Red
- ▼ May 6 - May 13 (8)
- ► 2011 (758)
- ► 2010 (751)
- ► 2009 (614)
About the Bloggers
Mr. Red is also known as Timothy Johnstone. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
Mr. Black is also known as Christopher Cunningham. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
CliffySmalls is also known as Cliff Elliott. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.