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May 6, 2010

Last week I made a post about horse racing and why I like it.  My killjoy cohort wrote a post about how he’s a killjoy.

But unlike him, I had a good reason for my post beyond general curmudgeonliness.  The reason was that I was about to leave to attend the Kentucky Derby — and the Kentucky Oaks — in person for the first time.

I had been to Louisville a few times before, and we had even been to Churchill Downs for the Breeders Cup a few years back (I had a hundred bucks on Invasor’s nose). But never to the Big Day.

Friday was Oaks Day, and the weather was spectacular. The Oaks is the big filly race, so everyone (but me) gets decked out in pink. With Calvin Borel up (remember that name), Horse of the Year (and First Lady of the Oaks) Rachel Alexandra ran (and just lost) in the La Troienne on the undercard:

…and then a filly named Blind Luck took the Oaks in a great race, while 116,000 of us drank beer and juleps.

Saturday the weather wasn’t nearly as cooperative. It was a rainy most of the day, and this time there were 155,000 people. Seriously. I’m not big on enormous crowds, but I was willing to go with the flow. Good friends, still more beer and bourbon, everyone pretty well behaved (those of us not in the infield anyhow — God Bless America).

The main event comes, 20 horse field, incredibly tough betting race. The favorite (inaptly named Looking at Lucky) was 6 or 7 to 1, and it went north from there. Then there was a horse called Super Saver (some people think he sounds like a coupon clipping ad), whose trainer, Todd Pletcher, is great, but has never won the Derby (I don’t particularly like him, I find him corporatey and boring) and whose jockey, the aforementioned Calvin Borel, has won 2 of the last 3 Derbys, which is a ridiculous feat (particularly considering that last year was on a 50-1 shot).

Well, make that 3 out of 4:

On Derby Day, Calvin Borel is God. Bet against him at your peril. (That’s me on the left as they turn for home.)

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