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Live-Blogging the Preakness: “I think we got nipped”

5:04: Wow, my dad and I were talking about the Preakness and watching the interminable pregame show. It’s been on ESPN for maybe…4 hours?

I am now back at home, and the preshow is still on. (One jockey appeared in a Claritin medicine commercial). So I thought I’d liveblog the event . Btw, I know next to nothing about the horses, the race, the traditions, etc.

Preakness is in Baltimore (where I lived for a year). I would have liked to attend it, but didn’t have a car. According to Wikipedia, the preakness is 1 1/4 miles; Kentucky derby is 1 1/2 miles; the belmont stakes is 1 3/4 miles.

Horse racing doesn’t make much sense. There’s not much money in the sport ( a lot of millionaires seem to enjoy wasting their money on a horse..but think of the glory!).

The horses are marching out. The announcer is mentioning one horse’s taste in carrots. I’m torn; I have a hdtv, so I wonder if that will make a difference. Oh, no commercial break! Sponsored by comcast .

What do athletes do while waiting for the TV coverage to return from a commercial? All the commercials are muted; a commercial of a dad with his son basketball player; they are all smiling; now a picture of a family with mother and daughter looking happily at a burglar alarm.

Back to the race. 5 seconds of flags! Horray! (I always loved these canned videos). The great thing about horseracing is that the owners basically did nothing but buy a horse, pay someone to take care of it (and ride it) and then sit on their butts. That basically is the American dream.

5:11. Two announcers are sitting outside with the track behind them. (Btw, my horse of choice is King of the Roxy).

A woman announcer is covering the race while seated atop of a horse herself. Oh, the announcers must love this gig! She knows way too much btw about Street Sense the leading contender.

Now, if I had planned this 10 minutes earlier, I would have put my laptop in front of the TV for a primo live-blogging experience). Unfortunately, I am sitting at my desk 10 feet away, having to turn my head to look at the screen.

Hey, guys are you excited yet? I sure am! The horses are proceeding to the front of the track at glacially slow speeds.

BTW, I’ve been told that performance of horses fluctuates wildly from race to race, so really the leader doesn’t have all that much advantage. Hey, they’re only horses.

My mom mentioned earlier today that going to a racetrack was awfully boring. Most of the time you just sit inside an air-conditioned bar. If you are lucky enough to watch from outside, everyone is standing so you can’t see. And the horses race by so quickly you can’t see anything.
They’re loading on the gate. 5:17. I have no idea who is who. about to start. ok, they are off. I have no idea who is doing well. go, go, go. King of the Roxy is 4, xchanger took early lead . Roxy slipped down. Actually it’s very hard to have good camera angles for the horse race. Hardspun is now in the lead, roxy is 5. 3/4 way, they better hurry up. Where is street sense? Now, a turn, who is where? street sense in front? Wow, that last 10 seconds was awesome! Too close to call. Replay, Curland. Who the hell is Curland.

Flash back to reporter on the horse. She is interviewing the winning jockey after finishing the race. “Do you think the race in the Derby helped him to run this race?” “He really grew for this race.”

“So when you stumbled on the gate, you had to go to plan b?”

Jockey: “Yes that’s right.”

5:22. Let’s watch that replay! (Still waiting–maybe we should go to a commercial first! horray!) Now an interview with Calvin somebody (the losing racer). Why does Calvin have so much dirt on his face?

How was your trip? the reporter asked.

I had a good trip, the jockey said. Who cares, Calvin!

Ok, the jockey is talking, but I can’t understand what he’s saying. So now, are the people in the audience irritated that they wasted so much time racing?

By the way, both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness were close races. It’s 5:29 (I took a 3 minute break to watch the replay). they had an amazing camera angle focusing only on the one horse winning the race. (They probably had one camera for each horse).

Another race, another year. My aunt Ginnie used to bet my dad on the races. It was a friendly bet, $5 or so. She was in California; he was in Texas. They never missed their bet.

While the two or three minutes of racing is exciting (especially this year), one has to face facts: horse racing is a nonparticipatory sport; only a few privileged people have the ability to compete; there is almost no aerobic activity involved (except for the horse). And that’s why we love this sport. (finished 5:32).

Addendum: They even had a camera on the horse owners! The owner of Street Sense was on TV, and we could see their reaction shots to every move of the race. Gradually their enthusiasm increases, and when the race finishes, one owner says to another, “I think we got nipped.”

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Mark 6/5/2007, 3:35 pm

    Some comments on your blog. First…the distances you note for the three triple crown races are all wrong. The Derby is 1-1/4 mile. Preakness is 1-3/16 mile and the Belmont is 1-1/2. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a race going 1-3/4 or longer…unless it is steeplchase races. The woman on horseback interviewing the winning jockey is a former jockey. Donna Barton….now Donna Barton-Brothers. Her husband is one of the top trainers in the country. She’s very knowledgeable on horse racing….unlike that idiot Kenny Mayne from ESPN who thinks he’s a stand-up comedian. Glad that ESPN pulled him from doing horse racing broadcasts. You ask why Calvin Borel (jockey on Street Sense) had dirt all over his face. You’re joking, right? If you were riding in a horse race and had horses in front of you kicking back dirt, you’d look the same too. This is one reason why the jockeys wear several different pairs of goggles during the race. When one gets to the point where you can’t see anymore, they pull it down and there’s another under that. You may have heard them mention during the broadcast that Calvin Borel was down to his last pair and asked if he had trouble seeing during the last part of the race. If the track had been muddy, the jockey s look even worse. Another error. You mention there is almost no aerobic activity other than the horse. Not true. The jockeys must have great upper body strength as well as legs. You try controling a 2,000+ lb animal and attempt to make him go faster or try to slow him down in the beginning of a race so he doesn’t burn out half way through. Being a jockey isn’t just taking a leisury two minute ride around a racetrack. Also, the connections for Street Sense said “we got nipped” as in nipped at the wire. They didn’t say “we got dipped”.

  • Robert Nagle 6/6/2007, 12:12 am

    I stand corrected. Thanks for explaining all this!

    By aerobic activities, I was talking about spectators. It’s not a participatory sport. Obviously, those jockeys are in tiptop shape.

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