I know nothing about horse racing. Nothing.
I couldn’t tell you anything about any horse. I had no idea who was actually in the Kentucky Derby until the "draw" this past Wednesday. Don’t like horses....don’t understand them. I’ve never been to "the track". I have no idea how to figure out the "future wager" or "pick 4 or 6 or whatever". I can’t read of racing form. All I know is that the fastest horse on the track wins.
But, it is fun to watch!
Now living in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area....the KY Derby is quite a big deal for me. I still feel the same way about it....but I now know all of the pageantry around it [the hats and mint juleps]. It is Kentucky’s calling card......horses. Well, that and marrying your second cousin. But, when we drive to see my family in Charlotte...we drive by hundreds of horses chilling in meadows along the rolling hills of the state. There is even a building that states "Kentucky: The Horse Capital of the World". Hey...they love their horses.
For some weird reason, I’ve always watched the Kentucky Derby. It is one of those American sporting events that you just watch because....well, you are told to. Just like the Indy 500....or greco-roman wrestling in the Olympics. Or Wimbledon. It is dubbed the "fastest two minutes in sports". All I know is that it lasts about 5 minutes, has an hour pre-race show, and defies all sports logic.
Giacomo....a 50-1 bet....won the Kentucky Derby. Where in sports does that happen? I mean, in the Olympics....we pretty much have a good shot at figuring out who will win the 100m dash. But a horse is a horse....of course. He has no idea what is going on [and you horse people...don’t tell me they do]. They just know they have to run fast or they get beaten with a stick.
Speaking of longshots.....71-1 bet Closing Argument finished in 2nd place....errrrrr....PLACE.
We had George Steinbrenner’s horse, Bellamy Road, as the favorite heading into the race. I do know to bet against the favorite...because they rarely win. Knowing The Boss’ tendencies...maybe he’s already shot the horse and had the glue truck come back to pick him up. Maybe he’ll try to use the horse as a pinch runner for the Yankees. Or maybe he’ll replace Joe Torre as manager.
Another great quirk to horse racing is the "experts". There are two kinds of experts on TV in this kind of event. The ones who actually follow horse racing....and the ones who have no idea. Both are sad. The ones who follow it....this is their shining moment. Their time to shine. Their chance to feel like Peter Gammons. To the ones winging it.....good try. They just talk and throw out a generic take like "Blah blah blah looks good, right, Willie?" Nothing beat Bob Costas standing out there giving a Yankees score [they won 5-0 over Oakland] before talking about the race.
But my favorite quirk about horse racing is the fact that gambling is what drives it. What other sport really says that?? Sure, the Super Bowl and NCAA tournament get a ton of action at the bookmakers. But, they’d be played regardless. No one watches a horse race for the sport of it. They watch it to pick a winner and see if it pays off. Even if you don’t have a bet on the race....you instinctively pick a horse to root for. You tell people around you, "I’m telling you, watch out for Greater Good" even though you’ve never seen that horse in your life. No one watches it for the race. No one says "did you see the way that horse galloped around the track!?!?!?"
So, since I had to work today...we had a Derby pool and we all had a horse. The guy who won the NCAA Tournament pool won the Derby pool as well....so he is banned from everything. The horse I drew, High Limit, finished dead last. The twentieth horse in a 20 horse race.
So...we will forget about the race in a few days...only to remember it when the Preakness comes around later this month. Then the Belmont. Then....another year where new horses get to takeour imaginations away again.