Thursday, May 7, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
Derby highlights weekend
Sometimes being a sportswriter brings with it a quandary or two. This past weekend was one of those times.
The big boy round balers in the NBA were battling hard to escape the first round and move closer to the final round of two.
Then, during the same period, one realizes that the Kentucky Derby is also scheduled to run for the 135th time. The grand luster of this event brings out the self-perpetuating love of all that is equine.
And to really add another stellar attraction, Tiger Woods is fast approaching his previous productive form on the greens this same weekend at Quail Hollow.
But the part of me that is equestrian by background knows that everything has to be dropped until that huge bouquet of bright red roses is draped around the neck of a new four-legged champion.
During our youth, my brother Taylor (now deceased) and I rode horses in competition locally and at Starkville. I rode for Mr. Landon Abston and Taylor rode for Mr. Elvis McKinney. We also herded cattle up highway 7 for Mr. Jim Tyson.
I was formally introduced to the pari-mutuel scheme of things (horse racing), while at the Air Police Academy in Pleasanton, CA. It is needless to say that the tracks of Santa Anita, Del Mar, Tanforan, Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows were not always kind to a wagering ingénue from Podunk, MS.
All of those memories came flooding back on Saturday at Post Time, and going without a spread sheet (racing form), I sized up the horses and their chances.
Early that morning the number one favorite, I Want Revenge, had been scratched, shortening the field to 19. The 3-year-old gelding had a post position of 13 and odds of 3-1. After Revenge was wiped from the slate, there were two horses with 4-1 odds (Dunkirk and Pioneerof the Nile). Neither was elevated, instead Friesan Fire 7-1 (up from 6-1). There were six geldings listed at 50-1.
One of those super long shots, Mine That Bird (yours truly hasn’t quite figured that name yet, but I am still an ingénue with bought experience), ridden well by 2007 Derby winning jockey, Calvin Borel, threaded the rail and slogged through a wet track to reach the finish line, mud splatter and all, almost seven lengths ahead of all the favorites.
Bird gave some lucky fans a $183.00 payday (that’s per dollar, thank you).
How times have changed.
The horses which I favored long ago went to the post at 10-1. Some still hadn’t made it back by a quarter to three.
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