By Cody S. Decker
I know I live decently close to the city of Louisville. And yes, I know that the Derby was today…trust me. And no, I did not make it to the infield of Churchill Downs with all of the other folks just lookin’ to make the right bet in hopes they’ll be able to cover their bar tab for the day. Does that make me a bad Kentuckian? Na, I don’t reckon. Plenty of Kentucky folk don’t make it out to the Derby, for many reasons. Shoot, I bet the majority of ’em read into the truth of what Hunter wrote about it and decided the stay the hell away from that place.
No. I didn’t go to the Kentucky Derby this year. I have a day job that has to pay the bills and it just so happened to keep me preoccupied until about 5:30 today. But, I did get to sit on my couch and watch the race on my iPad (not having cable is a blessing and a curse). That has to count for something, right? The iPad streams in HD….so it was ALMOST like being there. Minus the smell of horse shit and without all of the vomit from the primped up boys in their bow ties that can’t hold their liquor. Hell, I even tried to make my very own mint julep. Although I had no mint and no fancy julep cup. It ended up being cheap bourbon in a glass I’d stolen from Applebee’s.
I have never claimed to be fancy.
Back to the Derby. Once I got myself settled, it was about 15 minutes til post. I wasn’t too excited about the race at that point. All I’d seen so far were photos of women in hats that hit on a scale somewhere between “nice looking” and “just plain silly” and interviews with celebrities. I couldn’t give a fancy rat’s ass about all of that. So I was undoubtedly ready to get this show on the road and get it all over with.
Just before my boredom turned into sheer annoyance, I heard the first few notes of “My Old Kentucky Home” start to play. For those of you that aren’t from here, it’s hard to understand. But when that song plays, every time that song plays, it tugs at my heart-strings just a little. I love where I’m from and I’m proud to say so. Label me a hillbilly if you wish, that’s fine. I promise you that I’ve been called much worse.
When that song came to an end and I heard that bugle chime, I was ready. The most exciting two minutes in sports was about to go down on a tiny screen in my lap. I hadn’t really thought about which horse I wanted to win until the last few moments before they opened the gates. So I made my pick, cursed myself for not having any money to actually bet on the animal, and pet my dog on the head for good luck. My view had just changed about the Kentucky Derby. It’s a proud tradition from my proud state.
The gates opened and they were off! Such an incredible display of speed and discipline as they thundered their way through the first turn. My horse started like it was shot out of a cannon. I was feeling good about my pick. He dropped back to third. That’s ok. Fourth. Still fine, the jockey knows what he’s doing. They’ve gotta save their giddyup until the last turn. Then all hell breaks loose. The magnificent beasts rounded the last turn and my horse kept his position. His get up and go had got up and left not too long before they rounded that last turn. He didn’t slide to the back of the pack, but he didn’t win either.
I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t bet.
Oh well. There’s always next year. Better yet, if I’m on a “betting with myself spree” the big boxing match is tonight. So I don’t have to wait ’til next year. I can throw a bunch of imaginary money at that. Until the fight starts, I’m going to continue sitting on the couch in my underwear, enjoy another “Cody Julep”, and listen to some Otis Redding. Why Otis Redding? Because he’s damn good. Why sit around in my underwear? Because it’s a Saturday night in Kentucky, and I can do what I damn well please.