Got a tip for the Derby?
What, to win or to die?
The nags not your cup of tea, then? Sport of kings, old chap.
Exactly, and there hasn’t been a king for 60 years. And, funnily enough, I don’t get excited by the same things that excited my great granddad. He got excited by declarations of war, the prospect of one day off work a month and horse racing. The world has moved on. Horse racing is of its time, and its time is long gone. Much like watching golf or listening to “Prairie Home Companion,” it’s a tedious waste of an afternoon unless you’re either dull or a gambler.
I’m not much of a gambler, but I do appreciate what the Derby does for this city.
Not liking racing doesn’t mean that I don’t want what’s best for the city. We’re trying to position ourselves as cutting-edge and progressive, so I don’t see the benefit of hitching our wagon to something that’s not only rural, but that’s defined by our ties to a tainted Southern past.
I expect your bitterness comes from being too small to be a jockey. I love the way this city embraces its annual day in the spotlight. I grew up about 5 miles from Epsom, where the real Derby is run … and unless you’re a racing fan, you wouldn’t know anything special was going on. No mass participation. Five minutes down the road, you wouldn’t even know it was happening.
Seeing as Epsom’s a town a fraction the size of Louisville, you’re not really making much of a case. Epsom doesn’t have the resources to shut down for two weeks. And don’t even get me started on the parade and the celebrities. When celebrities have to wear name tags explaining who they are, they’re not celebrities. And what is it about Louisville and parades?
I’ll concede that our celeb-attracting powers are a wretched embarrassment. If they were racehorses, most of them would be cat food by now. I guess the American obsession with parades must be something to do with tribalism. Not that we aren’t tribal in Blighty; we’re just a bit more reticent about publicly declaring which tribe we belong to. Still, Derby is Louisville’s guaranteed day on national television, so we must make hay while the sun shines.
It won’t shine forever. It’s only a matter of time before NBC stops sending Bob Costas to anchor it and starts sending Curt Schilling. From that point, it’s only a short leap before the Derby is broadcast on Periscope. Actually, that Derby has lasted longer than baseball, another culturally irrelevant and ennui-laced event, is beyond me.
One of the weird things is that I know you’re also a boxing fan. Boxing is in just as much of a pickle as horse racing, but you don’t casually dismiss its survival chances. There’s a lot of life left in both sports, even if both are also struggling in a changing world. And speaking of life and death: Ask anyone who knows anything about horses, and they’ll tell you that racing is as natural to a horse as grazing.
And fighting is arguably just as natural to human beings — but at least human beings generally have a choice in the matter. People just aren’t as into animal cruelty as they once were.
Only someone who knows nothing about horses could say something so uninformed. Horses love to race each other. It’s not the same as bear-baiting. Besides, your concerns about animal husbandry are a little ironic seeing as you happily snack on industrial-farmed pork or beef. Every thoroughbred horse in the country has a chance of living its life out as a loved pet, as a polo pony, or, even better, at stud. How many cows or pigs have the same chance?
Just because a racehorse has approximately the same chance of living to a ripe old age as you do of winning an argument with me doesn’t make it ethically acceptable.
Based on the fact that I regularly best your woeful rhetoric, those sound like pretty good odds. So I think we’ll have to chalk this one up as a win for Derby lovers. Tally ho!