Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Horse Racing? Really? [Mondays with Gus]

If you've ever sat around thinking to yourself “I would love to watch some tiny adults slap a horse on the ass enough times to make it run really fast for about a mile and a half,” than I have the perfect event for you. Sure, it happened this past weekend, so you'll have to wait an entire year to enjoy it. But, that's the fun of it all! It's the Kentucky Derby. You're supposed to enjoy the hype more than the event!

They call the Derby the most exciting two minutes in sports. Realistically, it doesn't even hold a candle to other sports. I would love to hear an argument that the Kentucky Derby is more exciting than a game winning drive in the final minute of the Super Bowl, better than the last at-bat during a World Series game, or more thrilling than the last possession of a game in the NBA Finals. Since I have never heard this argument made, I will take that as a small glimmer of hope for humanity.

Now, you might think I'm being condescending about the whole idea of the Kentucky Derby. If so, you'd be right. But, the exciting thing about the Derby is everything else. You don't have to like the race, or the horses themselves to enjoy the event. I mean, seriously how many people that watch this race can actually tell me how fast a horse is by watching it eat oats while some millionaire rubs it's ass? To me, this is why horse racing is probably dying. I can't say it is or isn't, because I don't pay much attention to the sport at all. In fact, I watch exactly two minutes a year of coverage. But, when people like me can get actively involved, your sport has a serious issue.

While I drove to Kentucky to a attend a Derby Party (an annual event that could easily have a new book written about each party), I didn't actually go to the Kentucky Derby. The reasons are many. I don't drink mint julips, I prefer pizza pie over derby pie, I'm certainly not a slave to (or fluent in) fashion, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna pay hundreds of dollars to watch two minutes of horses running in a circle. I'd rather claim to pick dead horses out of a hat while doing a derby pool and telling the only single girl at a party that this is proof of how rigged the system is (true story, she flipped out on the host in a remarkable fashion. Shockingly, I remained single for two years after that). I decided to get updated via my friend Mimi, a very fashionable woman (she had a big hat and everything!) going to her first Kentucky Derby who is blunt enough to make me comfortable in knowing I'm getting the truth about what the derby is really like.

When I asked her how much she learned about horse racing, and whether or not the infield was the place where people pay attention to the race more than the hype, she responded with “No one even knew who won.” In case you're wondering about fashion, which is apparently what everyone was concerned with during the race, many girls were seen wearing hunting boots with their dresses. Mimi tells me “It was kinda cute!”

In three texts and a tweet I was told about “tons of drunk, trashy hillbillies,” “Colonel Sanders,” and “two girls who were making out” that “passed out” during their session. Needless to say, the Derby is a classy party, just the way you see it on TV. But don't worry, “There are normal ppl (like us) in the infield too.”

I go crazy for the Derby party each year. In fact, I drove 10 hours (round trip) just to be there. The girls absolutely love to dress up, which means the guys have to obey and dress up, too. Plus, the hosts have to have classy liquor because that's what people do for derby parties. This adds a certain level of class and sophistication to the party. At the same time, everyone's there to do little more than get drunk and yell at horses on TV. It's fantastic. How often do people dress up while yelling at a farm animal for not listening to a person it has never met?

When derby culture forces me to learn about the complexities of their sport (game?) to enjoy it, maybe I'll take it seriously. Until then, I'm going to have a hell of a time watering down the sport of kings.

-Gus Rafeedie


  1. It sure beats the boredom of soccer.

  2. I suppose you love golf. What a boring game!!!