Queen Elizabeth AND little Dannielynn...


He had done a few good sketches, but so far we hadn't seen that special kind of face that I felt we would need for a lead drawing. It was a face I'd seen a thousand times at every Derby I'd ever been to. I saw it, in my head, as the mask of the whiskey gentry--a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis; the inevitable result of too much inbreeding in a closed and ignorant culture. One of the key genetic rules in breeding dogs, horses or any other kind of thoroughbred is that close inbreeding tends to magnify the weak points in a bloodline as well as the strong points. In horse breeding, for instance, there is a definite risk in breeding two fast horses who are both a little crazy. The offspring will likely be very fast and also very crazy. So the trick in breeding thoroughbreds is to retain the good traits and filter out the bad. But the breeding of humans is not so wisely supervised, particularly in a narrow Southern society where the closest kind of inbreeding is not only stylish and acceptable, but far more convenient--to the parents--than setting their offspring free to find their own mates, for their own reasons and in their own ways.
--Hunter S. Thompson, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, Scanlan's Monthly, vol 1, no. 4, June 1970

Nobody writes alt-pop love songs about the demure yet pretty Sarbanes-Oxley audit girl and her pale grey eyes. Writing about music for so many years, I've been forced to think in metaphors, similes, and subjective language so much, that when an "objective" event like the Kentucky Derby rolls around, I have to jackhammer all of the meaningless bullshit out of my brains so that I can wring the truth from the filth soaked rag of the horseracing business. People have spent the past week pissing all over themselves about whether Teuflesberg will get into the big dance. Who gives a damn? Also, I've been waiting for the inevitable paen to long odds...8 column inches on why Tiago is a lot like Giacomo and all boat dreams will come true after 1 1/4 miles of magic. These horses could come in for you and pay big on a large bet...and then you'd be able to move Little Vito and his mom to Maine and help him get his life in order.

A 3/3 waltz about a sweaty girl in her big brother's old gym shorts buying brie at the deli counter won't inspire a love triangle fistfight on the dance floor of Lee's on a Friday night. The Derby is a literal race, and when there are 20 future glue bags shooting out of the gate at once, bulldog ugly is sometimes your best bet. Curlin hasn't lost. Nobiz Like Shobiz doesn't like to lose. Scat Daddy won the Florida, the only prep win that has any kind of statistical translation to Derby wins in recent history. Cowtown Cat doesn't lose. If you bet $2 to win on any of the four, you aren't going to get rich, but you'll most likely end up with a grin on your face, come 5 o'clock Saturday.

Fake tits are fake tits. So, let me get this straight, polytrack changes everything about the way a jockey guides his horse through a race, and affects the overall speed of the horse, but we're supposed to ignore that the trainer, jockey and horse all altered their focus and plied their trade differently, and assume that everything will be just fine come post time. Riiiiiight. Look, if you run your damn horse across a frozen pond for 3 months and then show up in Hawaii and expect him to eat poi and glide down the beach like a Greek epic, you're a bigger fool than George Steinbrenner.

This is without a doubt the biggest bunch of garbage ever to show up at Churchill Downs, magnified only by the fact that it will be a full field of garbage...20 horses crashing into the first turn like a bunch of inbred hillbillies in stock cars cramming themselves around an oval squawking at their pit bosses over the radio and kissing bumpers trying to get an edge. If you think too much, you'll lose your shirt; just look for types and pick the best horse of each and line them up in your boxes...or, if you're a gambler, calls 'em like ya sees 'em.

You need a speed horse that will set a nasty pace and fade at the end for a solid fourth without stopping dead still and throwing his jockey on some 300 pound reject from "The Sound and The Fury" slumped over the rail, drunk in the infield (Hard Spun). You need a strong horse who's used to running in the money but doesn't have the killer instinct to finish, a real bastard who won't let anybody crowd him (Street Sense). Then you need two horses that will battle for the win, and win is the operative word in the Derby. Winners win. Curlin, Scat Daddy, and Nobiz are the winners in this field. If Curlin wins, it will be like lightning striking. Why battle overwhelming statistics in your thinking? I mean, don't get me wrong, if you're part of that Giacomo crowd, then go for it. In fact, bring your money to the window in stacks of 2 dollar bills, give them a fistful of old Thom Jefferson, and tell them to kiss your ass as you blow cigar smoke in their faces while you swill the only mint julep you'll drink this year and subsequently throw up.

But this is all meaningless drivel to me and Demko, who will open the horsey season at Canterbury Park and watch the big race on a big screen, thousands of miles away from the real action. Opening day at Canterbury is like a valet parking stand on the world's busiest street, where thousands of drunks roar up in large loud cars and are handed a button instead of a stub; they spend the next half hour staring at the button, then staring at their own clothing, wondering where it fell off, never aware of how painfully obvious they are, swaying from the ankles in their intoxication, dangerously close to the heavy traffic nearby, only to angrily and confusedly discard the object and go in search of stronger drink after looking up for a moment and realizing they weren't the only ones burned by that bastard valet. Fuck it, it was only a button.

Finally, of course, Saturday will feature all sorts of last minute panic bets...Zanjero to show...Dominican, Chelokee, and Circular Quay to place...Demko, 24 hours in the klink for public intoxication. But these are really side bets for small amounts of money, meant solely to entertain bored gambling dilettantes like ourselves, not for wins, but for the pure adrenaline of it all. At the end of the day, the only true advice I have for you is to let someone else drive, and don't let the kids watch when Floyd Mayweather makes De La Hoya's head spin 360 degrees on its axis about the sixth round.

The Bets Box Exacta: Scat Daddy and Nobiz Superfecta: Nobiz-Scat Daddy-Street Sense-Hard Spun Box Trifecta: Scat Daddy-Nobiz-Curlin over Scat Daddy-Nobiz Win-Place-Show: Nobiz Two ibuprofen, a Bloody Mary and a back pocket full of loser betting slips: Demko

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