I don’t come from horse country so none of the major thoroughbred races held in the spring are that important to me. Unless some horse is closing in on something historic, like the Triple Crown, I’m content to find out who the winners are after the fact. This year, however, a friend decided to hold a Kentucky Derby Party so nine or ten of us gathered at her house, downed a complimentary mint julep and commenced picking our horses. I knew right away that I would have a difficult time of it. My first criteria is whether the horse has a cool name and none of these horses had a name that was very cool or clever. Since a racing form looks like Martian calculus to me, I had to fall back on other means of choosing. I’ve always enjoyed the Dos Equis beer commercials featuring the “Most Interesting Man in the World” so I picked Stay Thirsty to win. I liked that Comma to the Top had a form of punctuation in his name so I picked him to finish second, willfully ignoring the fact that the name also sounded like complete gibberish. Finally, I allowed sentiment to dictate my last pick. Jockey Calvin Borel had ridden the last two Kentucky Derby winners and had a chance to win his third in a row. Because of that I chose his horse, Twice the Appeal, for third place. I wasn’t the only person to make my picks in a less than expert manner. At least a couple of people chose the horse whose trainer is a woman who underwent a heart transplant, while others picked the horse with the lone female jockey in the field. In other words, there’s a lot to consider.
It took a while but, after much pageantry and parading, the horses were settled and then burst out of the starting gate. I was thrilled to see that at the half way point Comma to the Top was holding on in second place, right where I’d picked him! After that, however, all was a blur of horses surging forward and dropping back until the pack crossed the finish line. Stay Thirsty finished in twelfth and Twice the Appeal in tenth. Comma to the Top, the only horse I chose whose name had even been mentioned during the race, finished nineteenth, which is a nicer way of saying dead last. I thought that his name might more accurately be changed to Period since he showed up at the very end of a long list of names.
Next year I’ll try making my selections based on the colors the jockey is wearing. In the meantime, there is still one more big race coming up. Readers interested in more information about the races that make up the Triple Crown may want to consider checking out the following books:
- The Race for the Triple Crown: Horses, High Stakes, and Eternal Hope by Joe Drape
- Down to the Wire: The Lives of the Triple Crown Champions by Robert L. Shoop