As I drove to work today, the streets were empty. The sidewalks were unoccupied; the gas station I walked into was vacant.
At first, I wondered if it was already 2012. I had been meaning to go to the grocery store and stock up on canned foods for the coming apocalypse, but never quite got around to it. Then, it all clicked. Everyone was at home, camped out by the TV, just waiting. After all, the most anticipated event of the year is almost here.
The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby is the epitome of horse racing, mostly because it’s the only one that everyone can name. Known as the fastest two minutes in sports (until the launch of the US Rocket League in 2026), this race is steeped in tradition.
Beginning in 1872, Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of a famed explorer and one half of the comedy duo “Lewis and Clark,” was looking for his own claim to fame. Initially, he thought about following in his grandfather’s footsteps and exploring. This was until he remembered that his name was Meriwether. “The savages would have a hay-day with that,” said Clark.
So Clark did the next best thing: beg his relatives for money to build a horse racing track. After realizing Meriwether would only leave once the money had been received, they quickly paid him on the condition he name the track after them and stop coming around.
The races began, and what a grand time it was. Thousands would gather to enjoy a mint julep (mouthwash on ice), wear big hats, and chow down on some burgoo, a meat stew served only at the derby.
Yada yada, fast forward a bit… 2006, they changed the name from “the Kentucky Derby” to the “Yum! Foods Presents The Kentucky Derby.” This finally associated horse racing with Taco Bell, a correlation that racing fans, or rans, had been requesting for years.
That is all you need to know about the Kentucky Derby (brought to you by Yum! Foods!)
The best thing about the Kentucky Derby (YUM!) is, of course, the horse names. Very rarely do you find a horse that goes by the name of, shall we say, Phil. Instead, they all have names like, Flaming Turkish Marmoset Bomb.
The naming of a horse is done in a traditional naming ceremony called the Steed Christening. First, the owner of the horse chooses the number of words desired in the name. Then, a dictionary is thrown at a wall. The fifteenth word on the page it opens to is the next word in that horse’s name.
This, of course, leads to terrific headlines. For example, today Bleacher Report housed an article titled “Kentucky Derby 2011: Is Pants on Fire Peaking on the Right?” They would just ask Pants on Fire if he was peaking on the right, but you can’t trust a word the horse says (insert drum fill here).
In fact, in the last ten years, horses by the name of Super Saver, Mine That Bird, Smarty Jones, and Funny Cide have won the Yum! Foods Kentucky Derby. To put that into perspective, the winner of the World Series last season was the San Francisco Giants. BORING!
This event, though, is never held without a few party poopers standing up for the horses. It’s mean to whip horses and ride them as fast as you can, then “put them out to pasture” if they break a leg, they say.
Well, ignore them. Horse racing is a grand tradition and they’re just a bunch of sniveling whiners. If they have a problem with it, they can invent a better sport, and it better be more exciting than soccer because my attention span is only two and a half minutes.
So whip up a batch of Juleps (remember: mouthwash on ice) and have a seat. You don’t want to miss a second of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
Brought to you by the delightful people at Yum! Foods.