Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
Last November, Jennifer, Kyla, and I spent Thanksgiving in, uh, well, hmm, not sure how you would pronounce it.
Why Looavul, Luhvul, Loueville, Looaville, Looeyville for Thanksgiving?
Yes that would be a complete Thanksgiving dinner served in a guitar for Kyla at the Hard Rock Cafe in Louisville.
We were there because Kyla was chosen to compete with fellow teammates at a regional Irish Dance competition.
If you’re not sure, Kyla is 3rd from the left.
So while in Louisville, we just had to make some tourist stops. But would Jennifer and Kyla even consider where this man dared to go? The answer as we discussed the question many weeks in advance was…yes! I was stunned.
So, in advance of the 145th renewal of the Kentucky Derby next Saturday, our theme this week is the Run for the Roses, complete with, aren’t you lucky, photos from our 2018 visit to one of the greatest sports sites in the universe!
It’s going to be fun. Let’s get started.
Sunday, November 25, 2018
It was our last full day in Louisville before heading home.
We’re killing time at spots for some potential final souvenirs, including the visitor’s centers located just across the street from our Irish Dance competition venue.
A kindly elderly woman employee chuckled at me when I asked how close Churchill Downs was. She said it being a Sunday that traffic would be light and it was a straight 12-15 minute shot down such and such a street, turn right at such and such, and look to the left and you can’t miss it.
God bless her. She was right.
We immediately spent time in the Churchill Downs museum and soon got the feel of what it must be like on Derby Day.
You can almost hear the trumpets blaring.
What a spectacle.
Grantland Rice wrote about the Derby more than 80 years ago:
“Those two minutes and a second or so of derby running carry more emotional thrills, per second, than anything sport can show.”
They call it “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” The Kentucky Derby typically draws a crowd of 155,000 people. It is the longest continually held sporting event in America, and it is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world.
The Derby is a top rank, Grade I stakes race for 3 year old Thoroughbred horses. Colts and geldings in the race carry 126 pounds, and fillies in the race carry 121 pounds.
20 horses compete, but they must enter into a series of 35 races taking place at tracks across the country and the world. Points are awarded to the top 4 horses that finish in each of those 35 races, and the 20 horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby race. The Kentucky Derby winning purse is $2 million.
Pat Forde wrote on ESPN.com in 2006:
“It’s a very competitive, dangerous sport — and you can’t eat,” said mega-trainer Bob Baffert, a former rider in his youth. “You don’t see many 40-year-old bull fighters; this is the same thing. You can’t live a normal life.”
Normal is a long way from the day-to-day existence of a jockey. Here’s the basic job description:
Hold a thin strip of leather in your hands and balance your feet on a pair of inch-wide steel bars. Use your knees to hug the sides of an animal 10 times your weight, while hurtling along in tight quarters at 35 mph. If you fall off or your horse goes down, something will break. Hopefully not your neck, spine or skull.
“You can go out and ride a race and not come back, or get paralyzed,” said retired jockey Patti Cooksey, the second-winningest female rider in history behind Julie Krone. “That’s just a fact.”
Russell Baze, now a retired jockey, told the New York Times:
“You never lose the thrill of having that gate come open and the feeling of that horse surging up beneath you. It feels like you’re on top of one big muscle. It’s exhilarating. You’re in command of all that power.
“It’s like a chess game where you need to see the moves ahead. You can influence what the others do. If a guy is going too slow, you let your horse creep up on them and give them a little goose, get them started a little sooner than they’d want.
“But you know how fast you’ve gone and, if you have any sense of pace, you know how much horse you’ve used up. You can feel it in your hands. Sometimes you can hear it in their respiration. Hopefully, they’re not lying to you. Some make you feel like you’ve got a ton of horse left and then you turn for home and pfft, nothing, the dirty lying son of a gun.
“It’s really fun to come from behind. When you’re in the lead, you’ve got the target on your back. But when you come from behind, you’re the one doing the target practice. It’s fun to wheel out and pass everyone. It’s even more fun to get through on the rail, because you are exploiting a flaw in somebody else’s plan and you feel extra smart.”
Next Saturday, May 4, they’ll be runnin’ wild.
There are 400 red roses in the winner’s garland. Another 60 are in the winning jockey’s bouquet, and 2,100 adorn the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle. The garland is sewn into a green satin backing with the seal of the Commonwealth on one end and the Twin Spires and number of the race’s current year on the other. Each garland is also adorned with a “crown” of roses, green fern and ribbon. The “crown,” a single rose pointing upward in the center of the garland, symbolizes the struggle and heart necessary to win the race.
The Derby has this wonderful custom…
OK, ladies. It’s your turn.
And we can’t forget this …
Churchill Downs serves up a whopping 127,000 mint juleps in two days for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, utilizing locally grown mint and another of Kentucky’s signature industries: bourbon.
Our next Derby tune was first recorded by The Clovers in 1952 but really gained a lot of attention in 1961 when Ray Charles released a rollicking version.
But we’re going to listen to Bob James. You’ll recognize his familiar keyboard sound. James wrote and recorded the theme for the TV “Taxi” (Angela). Here’s an edited, but enjoyable rendition.
On our visit to Churchill Downs we were truly blessed. The temperatures on that late November afternoon were in the low 60’s.
And we practically had the historic place all to ourselves.
That day was also the last of the season for racing and betting.
Here’s a song that’s associated with rolling dice but still fitting for our theme this week. Besides, you can’t go wrong with some Sinatra.
According to Churchill Downs wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby race in 2018 increased 8% to $149.9 million.
Gamblers may want to consider the following. The betting favorite has won the last six editions of the race: Justify (2018), Always Dreaming (2017), Nyquist (2016), American Pharoah (2015), California Chrome (2014), and Orb (2013). This year’s favorite is expected to be Omaha Beach or Roadster.
Jazz-rock pioneers “Blood, Sweat and Tears” in BS and T 4 had lead singer David Clayton-Thomas doing the honors on lead guitar on this next song that he also wrote. And there’s a brief but interesting tuba solo by Dave Bargeron.
Go down gamblin’. You may never have to go.
Even Elvis sang, “If I wind up broke well I’ll always remember that I had a swingin’ time!”
Before we close, one more Churchill Downs memory.
We met a wonderful couple from California. The wife stood with us near the back of a tour and took to Kyla. Turns out she had Louisville and horse racing roots. Every time the tour guide asked a question this ringer answered in 0.08 seconds. And she answered correctly as well.
They were incredibly nice. The above photo of them was taken during the tour presentation of the 360°, 4K extremely high resolution theater in the museum of a thrilling, emotional 18-minute in the round video experience.
Photos can’t do the theater or the video justice. They have to be seen in person for a full appreciation.
Our new female friend took pictures for us, including as we watched the finale of a race unfold in front of our very eyes while we stood right at the railing.
There we are.
About that huge screen, it was reported in January of 2014 that the new “Big Board” would be the only video board in an outdoor stadium or arena capable of displaying the new and advanced 4K ultra-high definition technology. The announcement was made by Panasonic Corporation of North America and Churchill Downs Racetrack in advance of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s largest consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.
As the largest 4K video board in the world, the 171-foot wide by 90-foot tall video board sits 80-feet above the ground and tops out at 170-feet in height so that fans throughout the racetrack are able to view crystal clear racing content.
Panasonic provided a product that displays in excess of 2,160 vertical lines with more than 4,000 horizontal lines of resolution. In total, the board is capable of displaying over nine million lines of resolution enabling a wide variety of capabilities including image magnification, replays, betting odds and race results, advertising, brand messaging, split screen and ticker displays, public service announcements and many other creative elements.
Wow. That was a lot. And that’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
We close with Michael Leckrone who recently retired as the leader of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band after 50 years at the helm. The band performs an impromptu request at the Santa Monica Pier prior to the 2012 Rose Bowl.