Yes, they ran for the roses. But they also ran for an enormous paycheck. A little over $3M to be exact. The Kentucky Derby went off this past Saturday for the 174th year. Horse racing is a sport I can definitely embrace. This is a sport where all the hard work is done about 100 yards away from me, and it is done by people other than myself. The only sweat involved on my part is the accumulation on the sides of my mint juleps as I yell, “Run horsey, run!” What a workout.
Looking back to last year, Y-2-D’Oh, not even the Kentucky Derby was immune from the effect of COVID. The race, which is usually run on the first Saturday of May, was postponed, and put off and delayed until September of that year. And even then, it was run without any live audience members.
Well, by golly, that was not going to happen this year. Limiting the crowd to 60% capacity, the event still drew about 67,000 people to attend live. Television was all over this race. Their coverage began at 12:30 p.m. local time and lasted four and a half hours. Quite a build up for a race that lasted only two minutes!
This year, they squeezed as many over-achieving horses as possible onto the track. After some last-minute scratches, there were nineteen entries remaining in the field. Nineteen horses on a track that looks comfortable accommodating half that many. And each of the nineteen was a fine example of what a racehorse should be.
So how does one differentiate to select a favorite or two, you know, place a bet? By reviewing their owners’ records? By looking at the history of its trainers? By evaluating the competition? Sure, any of these methods sounds like a fine idea.
But I have to say, and for the first time in anyone’s memory, I picked the winner of this race. That said, I did not use any of the methods described above. You may choose to call it instinct, or call it divine inspiration, or call it what it really was: pure luck. Before the race, I thought about what number I’d like to see cross the finish line first. And I thought “eight.” I like eight. Eight is not as super-popular as “seven” but not showing off like “nine.” So, I went with eight. The eight-horse jumped to an early lead, lost it to seven, then pulled it out at the end.
Sadly, there was no bet for me on this eight horse. With nineteen superstars in the race, I didn’t like my odds - no matter what they were. But the race was exciting, I will give it that. And it was yet another indication of society returning to some semblance of normalcy after a year of anything but.
And speaking of horses, have you heard about the horse that went into the bar? The bartender asked him, “Hey buddy. Why the long face?”
Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County and writes a bi-weekly column for the Navasota Examiner.