For those of you who are not from Louisville, you should know that this is Derby Week. Derby week is when people skip work, drink bourbon for breakfast, attend fancy parties, attend redneck parties, and eat too much. Sometimes we watch horses too. I've been to the track twice in the past three days, once for betting fun and this morning for more serious Let's-Watch-The-Derby-Horses-Train. Today I've got some stories and some hot tips.
Saturday was a fun afternoon at Millionaire's Row. Tickets to this part of Churchill Downs cost 20 times as much this coming Saturday, but on other days they are affordable. Someone gave FWT the tickets anyway, so we merely had to supply gambling and drinking money. We ended up spending less than we'd budgeted, thanks to an exact I hit in the 3rd race (boxed a 2-5, my birthday). I also learned that I've become quite the princess in recent years.
I used to love slumming it, and I've done my time in muddy infields and aluminum grandstand chairs. But when we arrived in proper dress code attire, and FWT said he needed to use the restroom immediately after going through the gates, I looked at him and said, "Don't you want to wait and use the nice bathrooms by the suites?" I think my favorite part about the renovations at Churchill Downs is that the nice bathrooms are no longer just for the rich people. Average folks like me can afford a jockey club suite or a table on Millionaire's Row (just not on Derby Day of course), and you don't have to sit out in the rain to enjoy the races.
At one point, FWT and I wanted to go down to the paddock and check out the scene. Well, we got down there and it was cold and rainy and blustery and people were smoking and it smelled like hot dogs and I didn't have cell phone service. I asked FWT if he could please take me back to the palace upstairs. Immediately.
This morning's Churchill Downs adventure was definitely more rustic (it involved cowboy boots for utility, not fashion), but I loved it. FWT and my parents and I went to the backside with a friend who owns horses, so we could watch the Derby horses train. The last few years, the Derby & Oaks horses worked out at different times, so it was hard to compare them. But this year, the Derby/Oaks horsies trotted (or maybe they galloped or cantered, i don't know the lingo) out onto the freshly Zambonified but still "sloppy" track right at 8:30.
They all looked majestic, and I still have trouble reading the names off their silks when they are flying by so quickly. But if you're looking for handicapping tips, here are the horsies I thought looked the best during their morning sprints: Line of David, Devil May Care (the filly), and Paddy O' Prado. Noble's Promise looked pretty fast as well, but seemed smaller than the rest. As for Oaks' horses, I liked Sassy Image and It's Tea Time. Sassy Image ran better, but It's Tea Time has a name that makes me smile.
I also think it's pretty amazing that workouts for these horsies last about 5 minutes long. How is it that they are perfectly muscular, grandiose, powerful beasts, and they only work out 5 minutes at a time a few days a week? Maybe that would work for me if I ate only oats and hay.