As NASCAR is slowed by yet another fishy caution flag, this the Mulligan Scandal, where do-overs are as routine as red noses at sunset; and as the NBA introduces sport's first year-round season (or so it seems to anybody tuning back after taking a pro hoop break for Thanksgiving dinner); and as baseball is preparing to look up to a guy big enough to float over Macy's parade; and as the PGA has devolved into Tiger and the Pussycats; and as tennis has gone laser (the Scope-a-Thon 3000 showed that 175-mile-per-hour serve to have been one sixty-sixth of an inch long); and with pro football saying human growth hormones, what human growth hormones?; and with college football inventing a national champ; and with college basketball graduating all-conference players upon occasion -- amid all that muck, guess what: This Kentucky Derby is already one of the most exciting ever.
Many of those who have been predicting the death of horse racing have died themselves of old age.
True, crowds are way off in some locales. But this isn't the Westminster Poodle Group. This is beauty and power topped off with gambling from simulcast joints and casinos. On-site attendance numbers don't matter as much as handle and cherry picking numbers from the slots: Timbuktu simulcast fans, get your Sunland Park bets down, two minutes to the post.
Some of the facilities may be your grandfather's grandstand. But no sport is more forwardly placed than horse racing when it comes to alternate forms of life support, like slot machines. Rumor has it there's no sucker like an all-day-and-all-night slot machine sucker. Plug up PennNational.com. Amid the Hershey sugar and Amish quilts, they're hooking up a casino to the horse race track.
One small favor from the talking shaved heads, the sports anchors: It's not that newsworthy if the Derby ratings are once more just below catfish-noodling. Horse race fans aren't home, Derby day. They're at a party or at some races or at a betting venue. Put a Nielsen book on all the TVs at the track.
133rd Kentucky Derby
A few reminders: This isn't a race for traditional handicapping technique. Picking one of 20 is more like Keeno. Extended layoffs are routine. The next start-up for some could occur on the breeding grounds. So don't forget to make more small bets; you can't hit what you're not playing. Rain would have to favor what's up front. Check back at this site Saturday where a blog will deal with finishing the Derby.
The Field by Post Position
1. Sedgefield -- Discovers dirt.
2. Curlin -- Brief favorite; beat pets.
3. Zanjero -- Passing fancy.
4. Storm in May -- Right month, wrong race.
5. Imawildandcrazyguy -- Which got him gelded.
6. Cowtown Cat -- Animal lovers knock down number.
7. Street Sense -- Off three bare-knuckle ordeals.
8. Hard Spun -- Wacky work.
9. Liquidity -- No splash.
10. Teuflesberg -- Pace car.
11. Bwana Bull -- Ran owners into nice box.
12. Nobiz Like Showbiz -- Star quality.
13. Sam P. -- Maiden, allowance to here.
14. Scat Daddy -- Hello ATM.
15.Tiago -- Won one plus DQ.
16. Circular Quay -- Took spring off.
17. Stormello -- West coast offense lacks patience.
18. Any Given Saturday -- What's not to like beyond Boondocks start.
19. Dominican -- Stretch.
20. Great Hunter -- Hello OnStar, where am I? Trendy pick before draw.
Many are worried about Curlin or Street Sense running off with the loot. If that's you, put Curlin and Street Sense on top of these in whatever exotic: Scat Daddy, Nobiz Like Showbiz, Circular Quay, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, Great Hunter. Then forget the top two.
For those who can't resist late rushes from the flank: Quay, Cowtown Cat, Zangaro
1. Nobiz Like Showbiz
2. Scat Daddy
3. Circular Quay
4. Street Sense
Remember the Queen's strategy: Breeding is everything.
Write to Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org