Well, I said I’d talk about the Kentucky Derby, and so I will.

First, if you haven’t seen it, here it is.  It’s worth 10 minutes of your life, I think.  The race is over in about 2 minutes, but to me the real fun starts at about 3:30.

Dys and I watched the filly race, the Kentucky Oaks, on Friday evening, when a prohibitive favorite, Rachel Alexandra, steamed to a dominating win by 20 lengths.  And when I say prohibitive, here’s what I mean:  You know how odds are normally expressed as 5:1, 10:1, etc?  That is, on a 5:1 horse you’d win $10 on a $2 bet?  Well, Rachel Alexandra had 3:5 odds.  That is, if you bet $5, you won $3.

Yeah.  I’m not saying that’s a heavy favorite, but I think the oddsmakers would give the same odds on me to NOT tie a pink lampshade on my head and go streaking.  And when she crossed the line without another horse in the same zip code, well, you understand how those oddsmakers earn a living.

The jockey on Rachel Alexandra?  One Louisiana boy named Calvin Borel, winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby.  Borel is such a fun personality, and was such a bursting, bounding ball of exuberance when he won that Derby on Street Sense, that Dys immediately said “Oh, it’s Calvin!  We’ve gotta pull for Calvin.”  And the man didn’t disappoint – with his ride, or with his post-race exuberance.

Dys and I watched the post parade on Saturday before the Derby.  Mine That Bird was such a long shot (50-1) that it wasn’t even listed in the preview article I read.  But there was Calvin Borel, and Dys immediately said, “Wouldn’t it be great if Calvin won both the Oaks and the Derby?”

“That would be great,” I said, “but I’m still taking Pioneerof the Nile to win, Desert Party to place, and General Quarters to show.”

They finished 2nd, 14th, and 10th.  Because of a 50-1 long shot and a rail-hugging ball of Looz-yanna fire who was determined to make fools of those same oddsmakers he proved right the day before.

I was watching hard for Pioneerof the Nile coming down the stretch when suddenly I said, “Look at that horse coming up the rail!  Who the hell is that?”

Dys looked.  “It’s the 8!  It’s Calvin!!

19th into the first turn.  15th into the last turn.  First at the finish line.  Mine That Bird kicked it into an extra gear, it seemed, and started moving past the others like they were at a brisk jog – knifing through here and there, and finally squirting through what looked like an impossibly small gap against the rail and leaving them all behind.

Afterward, Calvin screamed in joy – then the emotion got to him and he cried to his interviewer as he wished his parents were still alive to see the day – then he was all fiery triumph again as he high-fived with a holler everyone who came within reach.  It’s the kind of display of joy that would draw a 15-yard penalty in a college football game.

It’s the thing that makes this sport worth coming back to, even after the Eight Belles horror.

Congratulations to Calvin Borel and Mine That Bird – and thanks for a fantastic Saturday evening.


2 Responses

  1. Got chills again just reading it, baby. Love that Calvin Bo-rail! Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. 🙂

    Why thankya, ma’am. I guess when I think about it, you were really the one I was writing this post for. 😉

    He may not be a favorite, but I’ll be rooting for him on the 16th…if I’m not too busy to remember, of course.

  2. Thanks for the video and cool story, TB. I missed it. My girlfriend never misses it and she did to. She mentioned wanting to see the video. All I saw was a clip of the finish and couldn’t believe his run.

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