Saturday, May 7, 2011

2011 Run for the Roses

Horse racing has been popular in the British Isles since... well, since there have been horses, but racing has been organized there since at least the Middle Ages.

In the 1680s, someone got the bright idea of breeding large English mares with the fast and agile Arabian stallions. The result was the Thoroughbred breed of today, used almost exclusively for racing.

The word thoroughbred is a word often used to denote something, usually a horse, of high quality. However. technically, Thoroughbred is an actual breed of horse.

All Thoroughbred horses on the face of the earth today trace their lineage back to only three British stallions (brought from the Middle East): Byerley Turk (1680s); Darley Arabian (1704); and Godolphin Arabian (1729.) A descendent of one of these three horses will win the Kentucky Derby today.

With the late scratch of Uncle Mo, the favorite will probably be Dialed In. My pick is a medium long shot (probably 10-1) by the name of Midnight Interlude. He only has 4 races under his belt, and lost the first two. And... no horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby in the last 128 years who didn't race at all as a 2-year-old, but long shots sometimes come in, right? Or maybe not. None of the horses in the field have ever done a mile and a quarter before, but this big boy will eat it up. I say.

As usual, the field is huge - so maybe the favorites will be blocked out of it. You never can tell. I don't particularly like horse races which start 20 horses. Midnight Interlude has drawn the number 15 slot, which has produced only 3 Derby winners over the years. He can do it. Think positive.

Fun fact: The British mispronounce the word derby. :)

Princes Margaret liked to attend the Kentucky Derby. The queen herself attended in 2007.

The 137th running of the Kentucky Derby will unfold at Churchill Downs late this afternoon. Distance: mile and a quarter. Track record: 1:59.40 (Secretariat in 1973.) Weather: 60% chance of thunderstorms. Lady's hats: second to none in outlandishness, not even second to the royal wedding.


  1. I was watching television a few weeks ago, and on the BBC's "Country File", I saw a report on the Kiplingcotes Derby, which is reputed to be the oldest horse-race in existence. Not a prestige high prize event at a glossy race-course, a country event over fields, with a prize that will barely pay for the cost of getting there. But a race with a wealth of tradition. It's been run every year since 1519.
    Anyway, the rider being weighed looked familiar....
    She was being handed potatoes to stuff her pockets in order to come up to the required minumum rider weight.
    Emma! I've known her for over 25 years, lost touch in recent times. She put in a fantastic race, four miles across farmland and country roads, led the race all the way, was overtaken in the last hundred yards to finish second.

    No fancy hats.

  2. @Soubriquet, your friend Emma must know a thing or two - second place wins more than first place, it says.

    @Max, but Ascot hats are something else again. Midnight Interlude - the name conjures up all sorts of images. I hope one of them is winning a race. If it does, spare a thought for your friends. :)

  3. @Soubriquet - How very interesting! I read a bit about flatland racing, too. I liked the links a lot. :)

    @A. - I am getting tired of hats for some reason. And they can make glue out of Midnight Interlude now and it wouldn't make me angry. Loser nag that he is.

    @Adullamite - Mug? I assume you are not referring to something to put your coffee in. Or someone's face. So you must mean #3: a hoodlum or thug. Or then again you may mean #4 (the only British meaning in my American dictionary) which is a stupid or gullible person. Didn't know that.

    Ah, the Sport of Kings. Does it fit? I don't want to offend. Boring? Not unless you don't bet. Not if you are the horse being whipped. But I'm glad you have an open mind and are willing to go with the flow about it. :)

  4. How dare you imply I have an open mind!



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