I lamented last weekend’s lack of viable sporting options. Well, in a country as great as the US of A, such lulls don’t last. We’re right back in the saddle (see what I did there) this weekend. The stinking, god forsaken Mets are in town. The golf tournament is ten times better (Tiger might miss the cut, what?), playoff hockey is back on Saturday afternoon, and oddly enough it is that hockey that will provide the perfect lead-in for the biggest event of the weekend…The Kentucky Derby. That’s right, the one day a year that the country as a whole comes together to watch some horse racing. The Run for the Roses, the most exciting two-minutes in sports, whatever you want to call it, it’s a good time.
People love the spectacle. And, that is what separates the event, allows it to still have a presence in a time when horse racing in general isn’t terribly popular. It’s a little bit like the Masters in some ways. Take the guys in green jackets away from Augusta National and they look ridiculous, ditto the ladies in hats at Churchill Downs. I’ve had a fair amount of experience with horse people. Not necessarily racing, but just horse people in general. It’s an interesting lot. I think there’s probably some untapped reality show potential out there, but bottom line, people are curious, so they watch.
And deep down, hibernating in the core of America, there is still that potential to get completely captivated by an animal. I think my Derby post last year was mostly about Secretariat, and I posted the links to the Sports Century episode. I’ll be honest. I could watch race horse documentaries pretty much all day long. They are riveting. I don’t think I am alone in this. People, for the most part, are soft. If some “super horse” emerged from the pack, you’d see a bandwagon forming pretty quickly. Not like Secretariat, but it would get a ton of publicity. A horse like Barbaro might have been on his way years back before the accident at the Preakness, and there was a little blip last year when Rachel Alexandra was challenging the boys. Bottom line, if a horse makes a run at a Triple Crown, people are going to be interested.
I hear the weather is going to be a nightmare down there tomorrow, which is a shame. Mostly for the people packed into the infield. What a mess that will be. The hat wearing Southern gentry should be all right in the grandstands. The stark contrast of the crowds between the infield and grandstand is another interesting issue about horse racing, but we’ll save that for one of many diversions into socio-economic theory. Good news is, there will be plenty of nice weather elsewhere around the nation. Get the people together, throw on some seersucker, a frilly hat, mix up a mint julep, and catch the race. It’s the American thing to do. Have a good weekend. Oh, should I pick it? Ok, I’d throw a little exacta box around Sydney’s Candy and Ice Box. If you want the long shot, how could you avoid Homeboykris at 50-1?