02 May 2009
A Tradition Few Understand
When you are a Kentucky native, today is a special day.
It's the high holidays.
The first Saturday in May is the Run for the Roses. If one lives in Kentucky, the week is marked by parades, by a great deal of Kentucky pride, a tradition of really bad hats that never see the light of day the other 364 days of the year, and planning for a day-long party with friends and family. Parties include mint julips, friendly betting, barbeque, and great food.
It is fantastically great fun. Thoroughbred horses are something that makes every Kentuckian verklempt. Attending the Derby is a rite of passage for every college-age Kentuckian. I have attended twice. I'm too old for that shenanigans anymore.
I don't live in Kentucky anymore. My day is marked by a 2-hour online investigation of the horses, their owners, their trainers, and most importantly, their jockeys. I then have to inform my family of my picks, trash talk theirs, and then we all watch the race on television. We seldom win. It doesn't matter. We all choke up when they the University of Louisville marching band plays the state song, My Old Kentucky Home. We deplore the celebrities who think they are "honorary Kentuckians" for a day. There is no feeling like being a native Kentuckian on Derby Day.
Last year, I missed my first Kentucky Derby of my adult life. D-fav Liv and I were on the road in the second leg of our Wild West Adventure. We had it planned to hit Roswell, NM, just in time for the race. Unfortunately, we had fubared the time change. The race had already run. I tried not to appear crushed. But it was like someone had stolen Christmas from me.
I know that no one else gets it. That's part of the attraction.
I picked Desert Party, Chocolate Candy, and Hold Me Back. My horses came in fifth, twelfth, and fourteenth. It's all good.
Mine that Bird went off at 50-1. It payed $102 for a $2 bet. The horse itself only cost $9500. The trifecta paid $500,000+. By golly, Kentuckians love that kind of rags to riches stories. Too bad the horse is a gelding. Best of luck to them as they head to Maryland.