Derby Confessions

My name is Paul. I'm a racing fan and blogger.

And I didn't watch yesterday's wall-to-wall TV coverage of the Kentucky Derby.

Sure, I turned on NBC just to see the race. Then after it,  "click", the TV was off. Sure, I was active on Twitter before and after the race. But no NBC.

I know it's Sunday, and many are making confessionals about their Kentucky Derby. How they should have used more California-based horses or how they failed to make the Cinco de Mayo-I'll Have Another drinking connection.  Sure, the 1-2-3 and longshot picks I gave all ran in double digits. I ordered some humble pie last night.

But that's not why I'm in the confessional booth.

I'm a racing fan.  I wasn't watching the all-day coverage on NBC.


To me, the NBC coverage of the Kentucky Derby is tedious, unrealistic, monotonous, and boring. Most of the two hours of Derby buildup focus on stories that have been out in the media for days, if not weeks, and are presented, recycled, regurgitated, etc. By the time they hit Derby week, the duck tape holding it together is starting to show.

Let's use TAKE CHARGE INDY as an example. I admit no shame to contributing my role to this grist but a lot of local news sites attempted to give the same story I gave during Derby week.  Some did it well (see DePaolo's piece after the race in the Northwest Herald), some are just meaningless chatter (see this one from the local ABC affiilate which mentions the horse only in the headline but becomes just a bullet point race preview). Multiply this by sixty-for the twenty horses, twenty trainers, and twenty ownership groups.

Two hours of stories that feel recycled.  Maybe I'll flip over to Lifetime. They got a movie on, no?

Next is the idea that every story is heartwarming and wonderful. Okay, there are heartwarming Derby stories (see 2005, Afleet Alex). But there probably are some douchebags out there among the Derby connections. Whether it's a school or an office or a CTA bus or where ever, you can't possibly tell me that twenty horse trainers brought together all going to act nicey-nice. Maybe they are on their best behavior for the Peacock Network. But one of them has to be annoying or give you a sour feel at some point.

And what if I went to a bar, say Derby Chicago in Lincoln Park? Well, that would be a zoo (and not the one with lions and tigers). Sure everyone is hooping and hollering, and that's okay. But it takes away from watching the race. The idea of women in Derby hats that are so ginormous they have their own ward elections also doesn't float my boat. Going to a track (say, Arlington or Hawthorne) just increases the open space but not the zoo factor. I'll go to Brookfield Zoo to feed the animals.

There's also the post-Derby letdown. We see the Derby countdowns. But is there a minute by minute Preakness countdown? A Belmont countdown? A Stephen Foster Handicap countdown? An Arlington Million countdown?  No, Nope, No way, Nuh-uh



Readers, by now you suspect I'll say "get off my lawn" or something like that.

The issue is that I'm a racing fan. And enjoying the Derby as a convergent r-a-c-e that brings together the top sophomore males to try an untested distance for a pot of two million dollars is almost impossible. Event has overtaken race. It makes enjoying the race and the sport nearly impossible.

But I'm a racing fan (and a blogger). And while I am pleased there was record attendance and a record crowd for the Derby, were we there to watch the race, or were we there just because?

If you were there (or watching on NBC) to watch the race, to watch Bodemesiter nearly take them all the way and be thwarted by I'll Have Another, then I'll see you for the Preakness (and Hanshin Cup on the same day at Arlington Park). If not, then stick around and watch a race. Not the Derby, but just a ho-hum day. Go and watch. Treat the Kentucky Derby as the start, not the end of something.

I'll still be here.  I'm a racing fan, after all.

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