Sadly, I wasn’t a weekly grand prize winner this year.
In twelve years, if my little girl isn’t the starting shortstop for the Stanford Lady Cardinal Softball team, then I’m sure she is going to be well on her way at some Ivy League school graduating Magna Cum Laude in psychology. My little ninja negotiator cut a deal so I could have her this Saturday even though, per the ludicrous IPTG (Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines for you newbies), I was going to have to go yet another full weekend without her. Why? Because the mommy union way back when got this mysterious Mother’s Day holiday established. I’m all for a kid spending time with their mother on Mother’s Day, but a whole weekend? I call hogwash.
Never mind, Hammy just hurled a shot glass that grazed my ear to remind me I get the same courtesy in June for Father’s Day weekend. What makes this Saturday so special as opposed to the first Saturday of any other month? It’s Derby day! Like two general managers on teams that absolutely despise each other, we were able to engineer a trade that our star athlete authored. I get one day this year of Mother’s Day weekend, and in turn, I’m trading out one day of Father’s Day weekend. Pinch me, world, that sounds like co-parenting! Sloane gets to be reunited with her peeps for a day, we enjoy a get together with friends, and, of course, the Kentucky Derby festivities!
Let’s go pick some winning horses dad!
Now if you aren’t from the Louisville, KY metro region, you might want to end here, and I’ll see you next time your internetal (new word) subway stop lands you at the gates of the Skipahsphere. Still awaiting a memo from Webster informing me that Skipahsphere is part of the lexicon also. As much lobbying as I’ve done with the U.S. Census bureau to lose the Louisville Metro area moniker on us poor southern Hoosiers, my pleas fell on deaf ears. So what do us Hoosiers do during Derby time? Take in all the Derby festival fun, go home to our tidy Hoosier abodes, and party like it’s 1999 (oh wait he died) on the first Saturday in May every year.
Since the good folks that run Churchill Downs have literally and figuratively sold out to corporate America, getting a ticket to the Derby either involves sexual favors or being more connected than a mob boss in New York City. Needless to say, the “common” folk do not go to the Derby anymore unless their box seats were willed to them or they run a Ponzi scheme and haven’t been caught yet. There is the infield option, but that is for another time. Oh, what the hell, chalk this next little nugget up to the unreleased chapter of my life known as Great Acts of Stupidity: Skipah Style.
Mr. Skipah attended one Derby his whole life; it was in 1997, and unfortunately that was a year when the unpredictable Kentuckiana weather decided it needed to be 40 degrees and raining. I think infield tickets at the time were $35.00 USD, and I and my late teens/early 20s posse sought out to investigate this land of unlimited boobs and the much-rumored counterculture imaginary city known as the infield. Images I saw that day have stilled scarred me for life. You would think being 20 years old and getting to see boobs without having to buy a magazine would be cool……let’s call that experiment about a 25% success rate. I saw beautiful women wearing sun dresses and toting Gucci purses… defecating in bushes. I saw some of the most creative things in the world in the art of smuggling alcohol, and I still tell the story to this day of the guy that was pouring his hooch from a catheter bag. I’m assuming he worked in the medical field, and it wasn’t used, but one can never be too sure!
Myself, I stuck to drinking black cherry Kool-Aid that day (hey I was only 20, it wasn’t legal to double fist mint juleps) and had me one hell of a sugar high going. By the end of the day, after Silver Charm was done posing for pictures wearing a blanket of roses and Bob Baffert became a household name in the horse racing world, Mr. Skipah was also out of money. Black cherry Kool-Aid and degenerate gambling gets expensive at the track. When our traveling party decided to zig, I zagged and long story short I got separated from our “ride” home and with only fifty cents to my name at that point I made two phone calls (this is well before everybody had a cell phone and pay phone rates then were still a quarter) and got “wait for the beep” (you have to be a product of the 80s/90s to get that one) on both calls. Thanks, mom! Google Churchill Downs to Clarksville, Indiana, and you will see the trek that launched my walking career. Needless to say, at 40 degrees and raining, my sugar high wore off quickly!
So back on point here, unless you are a rebel without a cause or young, the infield option sucks as an adult. Plus, Churchill has whored a ton of space in the infield out, and it’s not the same as it was on that frightful day in 1997. The status quo is throwing the finest Derby party in all of the land. Before the dawn of the internet (and TwinSpires.com getting overloaded and crashing every year before the big race), a good Derby party was the only way you could bet on your favorite pony. There were two classifications of parties: One with a bookie and one without a bookie. If you went to the latter, you knew somebody at the former to get your bets in. The pros/cons of backyard bookies are; Set payouts no matter what the odds are (they are trying to make money too), but by the end of the afternoon backyard bookies are so hammered they miscalculate everything and over pay. Now you can have your own personal para-mutual wagering party with your own set odds depending how much money is bet at that particular party thanks to many different internet sites.
When referencing epic Derby parties of the past, we don’t say, “Remember that time in 2004, when Karen and Mike were making out like a couple of teenagers.” It’s more like, “Remember the year Smarty Jones won and those two needed to get a room?” We don’t define parties by year, it’s by who won the Derby. I had way too much grape Kool-Aid the year that Eight Belles (R.I.P.) came in third and the bookie paid me like I won. Unless you live here or have experienced it, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.
I say Nick Zito, most of you are probably thinking I found some Italian reader liking my blog. Nope, that would be the trainer for Strike the Gold & Go for Gin from back in the day. The aforementioned Bob Baffert owns this town every year when the Derby rolls around; hell, he’s more of a stud than most of his horses turn out to be since he landed the local bombshell television reporter and married her. I’d tell you about bed races, boat races, and chow wagons, but then you are probably thinking I should visit a therapist. Take my word for it, it’s the most wonderful time of the year around here!
I had to give Sammy a cold shower after he saw this!
About it for now, I speak of all this Derby party fun and Sloane “the negotiator” and I are attending one ourselves. Miss Madison gets to witness the Derby experience first hand tomorrow, and I’ve got to get my Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby bet in!