The Sport of Kings..and Queens

Posted: Monday, May 5, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It wasn’t meant to be a Kentucky Derby party. Our friends, Denny and Joanie came over  Saturday to help us hang a ceiling fan in my computer room. 
By "help" I mean Denny actually does the work.
It turns out, though,  we didn’t have the proper bracket so it’s a job that will have to wait for another day.
It was finally nice enough to be outside.. as long as you sat on the sunny side of the deck and, as we were enjoying a cocktail or two, the conversation got around to the Derby..or stuff associated with the "Run for the Roses."
As long as we were talking about the Derby anyway, we decided around 4 O’clock that we might as well go in and watch it.
The race itself lasts only a couple minutes but the preliminaries, designed to stimulate viewer excitement, have been going on for three hours.
Here’s sort of how the conversation went as we watched and waited for post time.
"Have you ever had a mint julep?"  "Nah, I don’t care much for Kentucky whiskey in the first place and mixing it with squished mint leaves, sugar, water and crushed ice just sounds nasty."
"I dunno, I hear they’re pretty good."
"The women must drink a lot of them in order to get up the nerve to wear some of those big goofy hats they have on.""I love hats," Linda and Joanie both said at once. "Why don’t you wear them once in a while then?" we replied, knowing as soon as the words came out that it was an idiotic thing to say.
"Wonderful, they chirped, we’ll have ours bought and ready for when you take us to Churchill Downs in person next year to show them off."
Trying quickly to change the subject, I asked what horse they liked to win. Hard not to like "Big Brown,"
I said.
"Where do they come up with such dumb names."
"Big Brown is owned by UPS which has all those big brown parcel delivery trucks."
"I see there’s a horse called "Big Truck" in the race, is he owned by UPS too?"
"No, that’s a long shot owned by some insurance guy from New York."
"Well, I’d like for Eight Belles to win," said Joanie. "It’s about time a lady horse beat all those men horses for a change."
“Speaking of that, I hear Hillary has a bet on her to win," said Linda.
"Well, that’s the kiss of death," I said..trying to be funny not prophetic.
I should have known that you don’t joke around about female race horses.
Hemmingsen learned that lesson years ago when perhaps the best known and most successful filly of all time, Ruffian, broke down during a race and had to be euthanized.
Steve, after reading the story on the air, made one of his famous candid comments in which he was critical of all the fuss. “It’s only a horse,” he said sarcastically..not realizing at the time he was opening a flood gate of fury from our viewers.
The phone calls to Kelo protesting Steve’s remarks might still be coming in.
Ruffian was more than just another race horse. She had become beloved and a symbol of how females can and should be just as powerful and valued as their male counterparts.  
Now, all these years later and here I am..kidding around about Eight Belles and Mrs. Clinton only to have our living room turn silent when  they announced that after finishing second to Big Brown in the race, Eight Belles had gone down on the back stretch breaking both ankles.
Before the exhausted animal could even catch her breath, a vet had started to administer the lethal injection that would end her agony. There’s no surviving that kind of injury.
Now, it’s on to the Preakness where Big Brown will try win the second jewel of the elusive triple crown.
But it just won’t be the same without that big hearted filly nipping at his heels..challenging for the lead.I’m not making any predictions on a winner.

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