Hump day during Derby week means two things in the Kordsmeier household; 1) post position draw and first glimpse at odds for The Derby, and 2) time to brew and age the “not-so-simple” mint infused syrup for Saturday’s Derby party. As is customary, the bartender will get an initial sample while the fermentation process takes place… very helpful when plotting hundreds of statistical samples (my own monte carlo simulation, if you will) of possible pace scenarios based on post positions. Now are you getting a sense of why I love The Derby so?
On the training front, Churchill Downs has been muddy for the last several days, forcing most of the entrants to have their last major workout on an "off" track. On Tuesday, Awesome Act drilled 4 furlongs in :48 1/5 on the slop and the expected pacesetter - Conveyance zipped 5 furlongs in :59 4/5. Inspired by these workouts, I laced up the New Balance's and labored 4 miles in :36 (errr, check that - 36 minutes!) on the Katy Trail and I was blowing hard after the work until I cooled down with a refreshing Coors Light. Have I mentioned the mint juleps?
I came across the following from the website representing thoroughbred racing, www.ntra.com, and thought you may also get a kick out of this. I’ve often stated that the months of March and April are the best months for sports fans, as we welcome back America’s pastime to the diamond (especially for Cubs fans!), NCAA college hoops are in full effect and potential Derby superstars are being formed every Saturday. This writer parallels the Derby experience with March Madness…
Top 5 reasons Triple Crown series beats March Madness by Eric Wing, NTRA Media Relations (with my emphasis added):
1. Sometimes our 16-seeds actually win. (Butler came really close this year, but Mine That Bird and Giacomo have actually taken our top prize.)
2. Our grand finale is better than yours. (The greatest two minutes in sports, bar none! And we have longer off-seasons to recover from the stress and common letdown after the Belmont - especially if we backed losers.)
3. Our "coaches" haven't forgotten how to compete with dignity. (Well, barring the Rick Dutrow and Big Brown circus of 2008 I would agree with this statement. Trainers like Baffert and Lukas have added more class as they have aged. Derby favorites such as Nafzger and Zito have always been great ambassadors for the sport.)
4. Our sport doesn't pretend that betting isn't going on. (Amen to that, brother! Many states with lotteries boast of the “economic impact” from the lottery on jobs, education funding, etc. How about the impact of the thoroughbred industry? Even at independent tracks such as Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, seasonal employment and the tourism industry swell thanks to the gambling juice (ranging from 13% on straight win-place-show bets to 20% on exotics such as exactas, trifectas, pick 3’s) that finance purse money, which in turn gives owners payback on their investment to pay the jockeys cut as well as training fees for their entire staff. It also doesn’t hurt that some people hit “paydirt” each year in The Derby. I’ll never forget in 2005 when long-shots Giacomo and Closing Argument ran first and second that sparked a superfecta that paid over $1.7 million! For the record, that was more than the owner’s (Jerry Moss of Zenyatta fame) share of the purse money for winning The Derby!)
5. Some Triple Crown TV correspondents can conduct interviews while on horseback. (I particularly enjoy the last point. What’s greater than seeing Donna Barton-Brothers or Caton Bredar with mane flying in their face capturing the first emotional exchange with the jockey who has just captured the greatest feat in sports, perhaps for the first time?!)
Trivia answer from yesterday is: “My name is Darrell, but you can call me D”… hit it Run. As a youngster, Darrell Wayne Lukas was the first person I “knew” that carried his first initial. It always struck me as odd. I even call him “D. Wayne” when I occasionally get close enough to him at a track to tell my wife I had a conversation with D. Wayne. Then I discovered that many more folks did this, from P. Allan Smith to J. Paul Getty, L. Ron Hubbard to P. Diddy. There’s something about this method that resonates with me. It seems to me that in a subliminal way it may help people become well known and move up in the world to achieve great fortune and fame. I think I’ll name my first racehorse bought at auction “A. Super Star” so he will have a better chance on the track, especially if his sire happens to be Super Saver! By the way, for those horse novices, Todd Pletcher plied his trade under “the master” D. Wayne (who started his Derby career with an equally pathetic 0 for 12 before busting out with a filly – Winning Colors ‘88) for 7 years before going out on his own, and look at him now!