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Rose Petals In the Mud

Pre-Derby broadcast!  It’s Christmas!  It’s the Super Bowl!  It’s The Day of All Days!

  • It’s… an interview with LeAnn Rimes, which signals that it’s also time to immediately go away from Christmas, the Super Bowl, and The Day of All Days for a little while. LeAnn’s world-ending hat seems to be doing most of the talking anyway:  “I’m really really excited!”

  • “When we come back, we’ll hear from Michael Jordan.  He’ll give us his picks.”  Apparently NBC has gone with a Focus on Everybody and Everything Having Absolutely Nothing to do With Horse Racing, and it is with great anticipation I await Corey Haim’s thoughts on broccoli fair trade laws, or maybe, if we’re lucky, a dissertation on Bavarian classical art history from Kentucky Derby Barbie.
  • One of the NBC reporters, quote, has tackled New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who, after thirty seconds of the microphone staring him in the face, actually says the following as he casts about for a way to express human amusement:  “Haha.”


  • If anyone in East Louisville is currently missing an awning, Michael Jordan is wearing it with extreme prejudice. He offers no explanation for his patio wear, stating only, “Intensity has been built around this for years, well before Michael Jordan.”  I will have to check into this, as I have been rather reliably informed by ESPN and several athletic wear companies that the world did not exist before Michael Jordan did.
  • Bob Baffert, we are told, was “up early this morning trying to recapture that special Derby feeling," a procedure which apparently demanded carrying a fey parasol stolen from a four-year-old girl.  It features ponies prancing about a verdant background and might also emit showers of glitter and the scent of jasmine on the quarter-hour.  Bob isn’t even trying anymore.
  • GARY STEVENS!, in a red tie, is clearly pursuing That Special Derby Feeling via the road of fine neckwear.  Bob Costas reminds us that “when springtime arrives in Kentucky, hope comes along with it.”  Also arriving in Kentucky?  Hideously overblown cliches.


  • Shot of the saddle towels being laid out for the Derby.  I’m really not sure what to think about this without Michael Jordan to guide me.
  • Someone got the spectacular idea of sitting Jay Leno down in front of a bale of hay and four small children.  This cannot end well.


  • Sloppy track this afternoon, but one that's holding somewhat.  Bad for the horses who like a nice firm track; good for the horses who are “mudders,” pure suckation for the horses who are like, “Aw, *&#%, it’s raining?” and just want to go back to bed.


  • Bob Baffert is also wearing a red tie.  Either this is obviously the Official Neckwear of That Special Derby Feeling, or he and GARY STEVENS! are forming some sort of terrifying equine-based glee club.  The interviewer actually says the words “your attitude” to Big Bob's face and does not get his voice box ripped right out of his throat.
  • Oh look, LeeAnn Rimes is back.  Oh look, I need more beer.


  • There are two ways in which NBC could reference last year’s tragic breakdown of Eight Belles:  It could classily show her memory plaque at Churchill Downs, and share full footage of the pre-race ceremony named in her honor; or it could roll around in the barely-healed grief of her connections, bewailing the varied and splendorous ways in which the United States of America, equine drugs, tracks, owners, trainers, breeders, grooms, jockeys, and veterinarians, but not journalists, suck.  You will never guess which way this went.


  • So much time has been spent discussing how awesomely awesome the call for “Riders up” will be that by the time said call is actually made, we hear it, but don’t necessarily see it.  Oh, well, at least we have the call to post to look forward to; surely they won’t screw tha


  • Crap.
  • Papa Clem, currently at 13-1, is practically placing his back hooves on the rail and his front hooves in the grandstand in order to announce that these hats, these cameras, and these awning-wearers are pissing him right off.  I feel you, Papa.


  • And they’re off.  A tiny little part of me is hoping that the telemarketer who called four times yesterday will try it again within the next two minutes, if only to form the basis of a justifiable homicide.
  • Ewwwww, muddy horsies.


  • General Quarters twelfth.  Polident, AARP, and Disney World's marketing teams:  “S--t.”


  • Has this field not met Calvin “I (Heart) the Rail” Borel?  Or a muddy track for that matter?  There’s a bit of a bias on that inside, and while everyone else flounders in the sloppy traffic, he’s on the somewhat more solid ground and at least five lengths ahead, texting his accountant to figure the taxes on ten percent of Derbydom.


  • Mine That Bird, across the finish line for a 51-1 upset.  Suck it, sheiks.  Back under the parasol, Bob.


  • Borel is two for three in the Kentucky Derby and will never want for sexual partners for the rest of his natural or artificially extended life.  Mine That Bird, not so much.  Poor b'd's a gelding.


  • A sobbing Calvin mentions his mother and father, and interviewer Donna Brothers, clearly thinking he’s not sobbing enough, reminds him that they are dead, dead, dead.


  • After the interview, Calvin slaps Mine That Bird’s neck so hard that the colt starts, and is like, "Dude, dial it back from eleven."  Calvin takes to slapping the outrider instead, and also the groundskeepers, the cameraman, the gate crew, four mint julep concessionaires, and the people in the MetLife Blimp.


  • Tom Hammond reminds us that Mine That Bird was purchased from a Wal-Mart SuperCenter for fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents, and the team had to walk from New Mexico to Churchill Downs barefoot, uphill, and in the snow.  The owner, trainer, and groom own something like one roller skate between the lot of them, and since he is trained by Tiny Tim, the horse has to drive himself back to Albuquerque.


  • Bob Costas wants to know if Mine That Bird’s owner, Mark Allen, is just regular happy, or “beyond happy.”  Allen confirms that he “ain’t got no feelings in me right now. ”  I think Mr. Allen does have some feelings inside of him, and those feelings are officially sponsored by bourbon.


  • Tom Hammond jinxes the universe by proclaiming that Mine That Bird is as of five minutes ago totally able to win the Triple Crown.  GARY STEVENS! continues to wear his tie. Aaaaaannnnd… scene.

my but that felt good at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (24)

[...] Beth provides Kentucky Derby coverage-of-coverage as only she can. Share and [...]

I love your analysis of the Derby... however, did you miss the part where Paris Hilton was filmed attempting to locate the perfect hat? That was about 45 seconds of my life I will never get back. Thanks NBC.

May 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Bell

Thanks for reminding me why I never watch network television. They have this uncanny ability too add unneccesary, trivial, and irrelevant bling to just about anything. I guess it all about commercialization, glitz, and glamour these days.

May 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRick

Fabulous commentary, exactly what I needed today!

May 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterlynD

Thanks so much for your great commentary, however, you never answered my mission for reading this!. I really wanted to find out who made Gary Stevens tie! Also, they really needed to do an ad for the Dr that performed all of the Botox on Tom Hammond, I think he and Joan Rivers would make a handsome couple

May 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterColette Barksdale

Thanks for stopping by, Colette. You know what, I've put in a request to track down the very nexus of the Gary Stevens- Derby tie information you are seeking. Stay tuned!

May 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMB

How 'bout a quarter-mil for the superfecta? Wow.

May 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterINCITEmarsh

MB, I have been reading your blog now for a few years, and while I greatly enjoy your writing (which I suppose is why I've been reading for a few years), I ABSOLUTELY ADORE your racing posts. You do your best, best writing when the subject is horsies. And Gary Stevens.

May 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterzaftiguous

HILARIOUS, MB. I knew I'd read all the important parts if I came here. Thanks for my belly laugh of the morning!

May 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKris

If you have not seen this... definitely worth a look - some great photos from the racetrack that day.


May 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Bell

Can't wait to copy and read this.

Why are there so few racing writers with "wit at will"?

May 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPink Budweiser

The following people in this vicious column have been gratuitously insulted:

Lee Ann Rimes ("Lee Ann" does not rhyme)

Michael Jordan (Unemployed nuisance)

Corey Haim (Riveting broccoli expert; salad dressing consultant)

Barbie (On Lasix)

Eli Manning (Innocent bystander)

Bob Baffert (Pleasant & charming, when he feels like it)

Gary Stevens (Cinematic one-hit wonder)

Bob Costas (Exhibits occasional interest in racing, but not much)

Jay Leno (Staggering into career home stretch, running on fumes)

Some Horses (Dry track connoisseurs, a/k/a, quitters)

Red Ties (Rivets attention on otherwise worthless commentator)

NBC ($15M "content" TV studio currently bankrupting NYC News Division)

Journalists (Exploiting equine death for TV ratings)

Tom Hammond (Drag queen haircut)

Todd Pletcher (Triple Crown trainer, 1997-2015: 1-999)

Inane Commercial Endorsements (Geico Gecko picked Friesan Fire)

Sheiks (Annual February panic purchasers of the annual Arazi)

Donna Brothers (Exploiting human death for TV ratings)

Tom Hammond ("John Adams and his intrepid party crossed the Pyrenees in the snow, in December 1799 - just to get seats for the Breeders' Cup!")

Keep up the good work.

May 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPink Budweiser

[...] humorous look at NBC’s Derby coverage.”  Which is a far sight better than the title the post probably deserved– “Frighteningly Pale Derby Viewer Drinks Too Much and And Screams at [...]

Thou shalt not mock The Stevens!!

Oh, and thanks.

May 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Funniest post evah!

May 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBB

hehehe! I often have Life take me to not-so-far-reaching, often unbelievably dull places, but I always return to Blonde Champagne for your Derby recap. Hilarious, as always!

I opted not to watch it on NBC this year, as I simply could not take much more of the 'ZOMG-Look-it'sapseudocelebattheDerby!' stuff. I instead watched it on the net, where they show a whole two minutes of footage--the actual race!

BTW, did you watch the Preakness? What did you think?

May 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwaseom

Thanks I found this blog really useful, I'll recommend it to friends.

May 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermatt

[...] up!”  Big improvement over the Derby coverage:  We get to hear and see [...]

[...] Derby liveblog is pending, and I must rest.  I fully expect NBC to nibble away at my soul one Suit of Awning at a time, and this requires a full night’s [...]

[...] GARY STEVENS!, right off the top, wearing the same tie as last year’s since it went over so well with The Laaaaaaadies.  Gary uses the phrase “impairs your [...]

[...] -Calvin crying again, some more.  Last year’s Derby footage checks in on his parents:  Yep, still dead. [...]

[...] leaves, and, fully realizing that this broadcast will suffer from a… a certain lack of something (GARY STEVENS!), cheers us all up with footage of horse [...]

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBreeders’ Cup, Part I: &

[...] sees its Calvin Borel-Javier Castellano pairing in the starting gate and raises itself a walk down Mine That  Bird Memory Beaten Track:  Remember how he had to stage a car wash and sell popcorn outside Wal-Mart to fund the costumes [...]

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBreeders’ Cup, Part III:

[...] -This is The Field That Never Ends.  It’s like the Kentucky Derby, only minus twenty-minute features on what Michael Jordan is wearing. [...]

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBreeders’ Cup, Part IV:
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