Let me preface the article by first saying how much I love horse racing, and specifically the Triple Crown. I have physically attended all three triple crown events, (at least that’s what photographic evidence tells me) and I have been betting on the events every year for a solid 15 years. I have correctly predicted a tri-fecta, and the contacts on my phone are littered with Derby, Preakness, and Belmont descriptions to identify the people that I will likely never see or speak to again. Ex. “Kim Preakness”, “Jared Belmont Beer Line”, or “Ashley Hard Rock Louisville after Kentucky Derby.”
So, why am I writing an article about how much I dislike the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” you ask? The answer is quite simple: the stress. Very similar to why I hate NCAA’s March Madness tournament, the Kentucky Derby, as well as its sister races, stress me right the hell out. Nail biting finishes, confusion of who to root for, and taking wild guesses about things you have no business taking part in, are among the reasons why my two favorite sporting events of the year, are also the two I hate the most.
The following are the 7 reasons why I think the Kentucky Derby is the 2 Worst Minutes in Sports.*
*Disclaimer: this countdown will be told from the point of view of a tv-watching viewer, not an attendee at one of the races. That is a entirely different countdown all together.
7. Placing Your Bets
One of the most stressful parts about the Kentucky Derby is placing your bets. If you are like 99% of the rest of the country, you are not going to the Race Book every week and placing bets on the 37th race of the day on the Maywood Park horse track in Maywood Park, IL. It is more likely that you dabble in horse racing and maybe bet on the 3 big races each year.
Therefore, you may not yet be an expert on the proper etiquette of horse race betting. For those of you that have never placed a bet in person, imagine Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi teaming up with Philadelphia’s famous cheesesteak guys, Genos.
You need to remember to tell the cashier the track, the race number, the type of bet, the amount you want to wager, and the horse/horses that you want to lose your money on. Couple that with the fact that you are likely making multiple bets, and putting in bets for everyone and their mother because you stupidly mentioned that you were going to the Race Book, and you could be there all day. Nevermind the fact that the line behind you is drunk and becoming disorderly because you have 11 post-it-notes from co-workers, lists of the horses names, and your shaky hands are dropping handfuls of cash on the ground. I need a Xannax just thinking about it.
*On a side note: one thing I find utterly hilarious about this process is when the cashier says to me “make sure you check your tickets.” Umm, seeing as I blacked out 9 minutes ago when I first start talking to you lady, I do not have any idea what I said, what my tickets should look like, or how much money I should have paid. My response every time (after flipping through the tickets like a flip book where Mickey Mouse is jumping off a diving board) is “sureeeeeeee, looks amazing.”)
The following is an example of how carefully I “check my Kentucky Derby tickets” after I made the entire Race Book angry spending 11 minutes placing my bets.
6. When You Have No Idea Who to Root For
If you are anything like me and my friends, you can not just place one simple bet and then root for that horse to win. How boring is that? The following is my thought process when placing bets on the Derby. I need AT LEAST……
- Win/Place/Show on a major underdog
- Win/Place/Show on a front runner
- Win/Place/Show on a horse with a funny name
- Win/Place/Show on a horse that is named after beer or wine (optional, but there is almost always one of those.)
- Win/Place Box Bet with a favorite and an underdog
- Win/Place Box Bet with a favorite and the horse with my favorite funny name
- Trifecta Box Bet with at least one favorite, one underdog and my favorite named horse
- Trifecta Box Bet with the three horses with my favorite colors. Dark blue, light blue, and orange
- Trifecta Box Bet with my three favorite numbers (excluding 21 because there are usually not 21 horses.) 3/5/18
Because I have so many bets going at the same time, I usually have no idea who to root for. I usually find myself yelling at the TV something like “ANYTHING BUT #7!!!!!)
More times than not, I will end up winning on one ticket, losing on the other 10 tickets, and my winning ticket covers less than half of the money I spent to buy the tickets. But, it all for charity, so it makes me feel good knowing that my money is being used to help others. It is for charity, right? Or is horse racing not a tax write-off?
5. Not Knowing What To Do With Your “Losing” Tickets
Sure you could just throw your losing tickets away, but are you SURE they are losing tickets? Because the tickets are basically written in morse code, I am never confident that the losing tickets are in fact losing tickets. Do I risk going back to the Race Book lady and ask her to double check all of my losing tickets, just to tell me I am more of a loser? Or do I trust everyone around me that I did, indeed, successfully manage to predict the wrong outcome 23 times.
4. What F*#%ING Horse is That?
Towards the end of the race, the cruel TV producers take the little numbers off the top of the horses’ heads and also take the placement of the horses off the bottom of your screen. This is when the entire room starts panicking and for some odd reason places their arms on top of their heads and just screams.
3. Yeah, but WHO CAME IN 3RD PLACE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
Of course the camera crew wants to make sure they get a close up of the winning horse crossing the finish line, with the second horse usually finishing just a nose behind. That is fantastic for all the viewers that correctly predicted one of those two horses to finish in 1st or 2nd. Good for you. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY TRIFECTA?
Sherlock Holmes himself could not be able to decipher which horse came in third place because about 2 seconds after the first horse finished a wall of blurry brown hair and colorful helmets comes whizzing across your screen like you are being launched through the twilight zone.
While others are celebrating, high-fiving, and ordering another round of mint juleps, you are staring at the screen and waiting with baited breathe to find out which horse came in third place.
5 minutes later the network will unceremoniously flash the rest of the results. This is when one of two things will happen…. You will realize that the horse you needed is still not finished with the race, or the horse you needed to come in third, did indeed, come in third. If the latter is the case, your delayed reaction will draw confusing stares from the rest of the crowd, wondering why you are only celebrating 6 minutes after the finish. But, you don’t care. YOU JUST WON THE TRI-FECTA! Congratulations! Now you get to buy the entire bar a drink, or look like the biggest, ungrateful prick that horse racing has ever seen.
2. Almost Per-tecta!
When your tri-fecta finishes in 1st place, 2nd place, and 4th place. And only because the horse with 150-1 odds has the race of his life, comes in 3rd place, and promptly needs to be euthanized post race because he has never run that fast in his life and can no longer use his legs.
1. You are SURE Your Underdog is Going To Win
You couldn’t design a more perfect horse for you. His odds are at a staggering 60-1. His jockey is wearing your favorite color of deep blue. You favorite number is draped over the horse and written in gold encrusted beer bottle caps. The horse’s name is not only hilarious, but you can already envision it in big letter in the headline announcing it to be the biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history.
You tell all your friends to put money on the 60-1 horse because you are sure he is going to win. You start calculating how much money you are going to make when he wins, and possibly even the potential that your local newspaper will want to do a quick little interview with you, asking why you were so confident that “Newly Tapped Keg” would win the race.
Then the race goes off. You are the only idiot screaming for “Newly Tapped Keg”, but you don’t care because in just two minutes you will be laughing in everyone’s face as you go up to the cashier to collect your jackpot.
Then, suddenly, as the horses begin to separate, you begin to notice a familiar color at the back of the pack. And sure as shit, it’s#5, that beautiful blue “Newly Tapped Keg” is in last place. But you do not panic. Surely he will come from behind, making his upset even more grandiose.
But, sadly, he doesn’t. In fact, you never even get a glimpse of “Newly Tapped Keg” again because he was so far behind the pack that he was out of camera view.
You instantly begin to wonder what on Earth you were thinking and wished you had listened to every single horse race commentator when they said that Mr. Ed had a better chance of winning the Kentucky Derby than “Newly Tapped Keg.
Enjoy the Derby everyone! And don’t second guess that underdog that you have been eyeing. I am sure he will do just wonderful.