Horsing Around

What parent hasn’t told a child at some point or another to quit horsing around?  While figurative horsing around is frowned upon, everyone loves literal horsing around on the first Saturday in May.  Why?  That’s when the Kentucky Derby takes place, and all eyes are focused on twenty horses running around the track at Churchill Downs.

Not a big racing fan?  No matter.  The Kentucky Derby isn’t just a race; it is THE race and quite an event.  In fact, it is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875.

Don’t blink or you might miss the race itself. The Kentucky Derby has been dubbed “The Greatest Two Minutes In Sports.” That’s a pretty short period of time, so bathroom breaks should be planned accordingly.  The dirt track is only 1 1/4 miles long, and galloping three year old thoroughbred horses traverse that length in no time flat.

The shortness of the race is in stark contrast to the vast amount of spectators watching it.  Physically present is a crowd of over 150,000; a record crowd of 170,513 were there in 2015..  That’s a much greater gathering than for a World Series game or even the Super Bowl.  And millions more are watching the event out in TV land.

Just what’s so special about the “Run For The Roses?”  Well, the winning horse garners not only a rose garland of over 400 red roses sewn into a green satin backing but a $2 million purse.  That’s a lot of hay for the owner!

Everyone can participate in the financial aspect of the race because betting is not only allowed, but it is encouraged.  Odds are posted as to the likelihood of a particular horse winning.  The horse favored to win will not provide as big a payoff as that of a figurative dark horse winner.

Me?  I’m not a gambler.  Even if I were, I know nothing about horses beyond the fact that they have tails, four legs, eat oats and run.  I wouldn’t have a clue how to skillfully bet on the race entrants.

My personal strategy is to cheer for the horse whose name I like the best.  Entrant Vino Rosso’s name makes me scratch my head. What does wine have to do with a horse? Just what were that horse’s owners drinking when they came up with that name?  Possibly red wine?  This year I’ll be rooting for Enticed.  Why?  The name is simply enticing to me.

And if you aren’t enticed by the sport itself, who wouldn’t enjoy the social event that the Kentucky Derby is beyond the race?  The hat is the focus of Derby fashion.  My hat’s off to all those ladies who sport impressive, fashionable and sometimes humorous hats at the track.  Perhaps this would be a year to tip your hat to Kate Middleton by wearing a fascinator.  This royal mom of three has pushed the fascinator trend.  You have to admit that a smaller fascinator secured to your head by a comb or headband is much more practical for a mom of three as well as for female racegoers.

And to keep your spirits up before and after the race (hey, there will be nineteen losing horses out of twenty), spirits flow freely.  The drink of the day for Derby Day is a mint julep.  Racegoers in their fancy hats can daintily sip this alcoholic concoction before letting it all hang out during the race by screaming and yelling for the thoroughbred on which their betting dreams ride.

According to the official Kentucky Derby site, more than 120,000 mint juleps are served over Derby weekend.  To meet this drink demand, over 10,000 bottles of bourbon, 60,000 pounds of ice and a thousand pounds of freshly harvested mint is required.  The mint leaves are muddled to make this alcoholic beverage.

In my mind the connection between a horse race and a mint julep is pretty muddled.  The origin of the word “julep” might provide a clue.  “Julep” is derived from  the Spanish “julepe” which ultimately derives from a Persian word meaning “rosewater.”  Ah ha!  The winning horse will no doubt be thirsty from that running, but instead he is treated to a garland of roses to adorn him.  Roses are attractive, but not thirst-quenching.

Music also plays a traditional part in the horsing around at the Kentucky Derby.  The University of Louisville band plays the Stephen Foster ballad “My Old Kentucky Home” as the horses are paraded before the grandstand pre-race.  At that point in time, the horses are probably ready to head home to the comfort and quiet of their stable; the Kentucky racetrack is full of loud noises, other horses and tons of people.

I don’t live in Kentucky, but I will be watching the 2018 race from the comfort of my old Florida home.  Just for fun I might don a hat and fix a mint julep.  If my horse wins, why I might even be enticed to raise a glass of vino rosso in celebration.

Just WONDER-ing:  Have you ever attended a horse race?  Would you attend the Kentucky Derby if given the chance?







3 thoughts on “Horsing Around

    1. The Kentucky Durby is on Cinco De Mayo. Does that mean the ment julips will be made with taqueria? My Kentucky Home followed by La Bomba? And the best hat to sport for the event might be the sombrero?


  1. You post the most interesting things. I knew nada about the Kentucky Derby but now I feel I could possibly talk coherently with someone about it! LOL Probably would not go either. I would rather go see friends or family….


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