Holy smokes. . . what a day. The King of Sports will be coronated at Churchill Downs today. People on the East Coast got up at five a.m. to begin watching the spectacle. How long has it taken to mount this mighty steed. The Queen is Dead--Long Live the King.
But not everyone agrees, and that, of course, is what makes a horse race. Some are betting on the long shots, and that, my peeps, is where the true money is to be made.
But right now, I'm nursing a hangover. How does one survive a two day event, 48 hours of brutal partying and liver damage? It takes practice, and the real pros know that you must stay up all night with an ER nurse if you are drinking tequila.
We all know that Cinco de Mayo is not a real holiday, at least not in Mexico, but we celebrate it anyway because we are Americans and we like to embrace diversity. And, fortunately for many of you, it fell on a Friday. But, in the words of the Good Doctor, today is a white knuckle orgy of Booze and Sex and Violence as we celebrate the King of Sports and if you are stupid enough to put up your money, Fear, Pain, and Stupefying Disaster will haunt you for the rest of your life.
The hometown crowd is angry and calling for blood and are not ready to swear fealty to the crown. The odds board is rapidly changing, but again, that's what makes a horse race. Per usual, today's big winner is going to be The House. They don't keep the place open with the money they make off the coffee shops.
I don't know how I get sucked into these things. Cinco de Mayo, I mean, though I do love good Mexican food and I have a bottle of Tequila Reposada by Clase Azul which is never to be mixed with anything. It began with the Russian Jew, the beautician, who had rescheduled me for Friday so we could share Margaritas, she said. You never say no to your beautician, of course, and you always tip big. And so the madness began by mid-afternoon. Not long after that, I was sitting on the deck mixing Margaritas with a girl who owes me dinner. Many, actually, so I sat lordly with my new hair and sent her off to get the spread. By midnight, she was gone, so I have had a little sleep. One, however, does not sleep through a coronation, and so with the dawn's early rise. . .
My father, for some reason, always loved to watch the race. I've always found horses to be strange and terrifying creatures. I'm not a rider, and they know that whenever I am forced to climb on one's back. I do not like it, though. I feel a big guilt. Oh, the horse people tell me that horses like it, that they are built for it, but that is bullshit. Horses want to be wild and free like the rest of us, not enslaved as a beast of burden. And so, at every tree and turnstile, horses try to brush me off, crush my leg. . . whatever they can think of. I've tried to make them gallop, but they ignore me, sometimes trotting for a few feet. I have had a terrifying gallop, though, in Argentina when a gaucho came up behind my horse and with some secret word had him flying across the unending pampas.
But since I was a kid, I've watched the Derby without fail, and I've learned to appreciate the creature's crazed desire to win. I am not a gambler, but I've bet and lost on a few derbies. I actually won some money in Miami once when Brando and I went to the iconic Hialeah Race Track where Sea Biscuit made his racing debut. I was crazy with excitement when my five dollar horse came in. I had no idea how the odds thing worked, but when I got to the window, I found that I had won three dollars. Brando found this to his liking.
The betting place here in town is gone now, so I haven't any temptation. One of my buddies who did like to gamble used to get me to place a bet every year, but I gave him up for a girl he didn't like years ago, so I am in no danger at all.
I once talked the owner of a famous wine shop and tapas bar here in town to serve Mint Juleps for the derby. He could serve them as long as he didn't sell them. That, apparently, is the rule. So on Derby Day, we all crowded around to get ours as the horses entered or left the paddock. We watched the barman muddle the mint, etc. I'm not certain what I am saying here about the paddock, but I am sure that the Mint Julep is one of the worst drinks I've ever tasted.
Secretariat is the only horse ever to break the two minute mark at Churchill Downs, though it is rumored that Charles has unofficially beaten that. Today, perhaps, he will make it official.
I will need a nap before the just shy of seven o'clock race time. I don't know the horses, but if there is a red headed female jockey from Ireland mounted, I am pulling for her. I've done it before. If I've learned anything this year, it is not to underestimate a redhead.
After today, I am going to take it easy. Too many parties, too many calories. I did hear from the women I had expected not to yesterday, but I am feeling like Quasimodo once again. The racing life will cripple you. Look what it has done to The King of Sports. I should have heeded the words of The Good Doctor (link) (link) (link).
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I decided to take no chances.