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Notes From the Back of a Black-Eyed Susan IV

I watched the Preakness this year with a champagne glass in one hand and a bundle of lilies in the other, because I was matron of honoring during the broadcast.  You’re getting this year’s coverage as it was meant to be seen:  From a hotel bar, in a cloud of tulle, silk, and painful shoes.

-Calvin Borel sits in the jock’s room reading The DRF, apparently under some sort of megadose of tranquilizing drugs.  The camera keeps its distance; there’s a danger that at any moment, he’s going to snap out of it and start taking flying leaps off the tops of the lockers or whatever it is he does on a normal day.

-Bob Costas flat-out refers to Mine That Bird as “an undersized gelding with a funny gait.” What needs to happen here is for Mine That Bird to come flying in from the side of the frame, hooves flying, all “I am gonna check yooooouuu into Smackdown Hotel!”

-Dr. Leonard Blach, co-owner of Mine That Bird, shares his memory of the Kentucky Derby, which would be extremely touching were he not wearing a shirt which looks as if it were featured, in a previous life, on a Very Special Episode of Miami Vice.

-Mine That Bird’s stall in Sunland Park is shown.  His name is written on a strip of duct tape outside his weatherbeaten stall, which is still wider, cleaner, and better lit than my first apartment.  It is indicated that he must also eat gruel for breakfast, and his afternoons are spent working in mines with occasional breaks for lunch and waterboarding.

-Overhead shot of the utterly empty infield, featuring the people’s answer to Pimlico’s decision to ban outside alcohol:  “It appears that has really substantially cut into the crowd on the infield.”  In other news, the sun rose today, and the government has been awarding stimulus money to dead people.

-Wider shot of Borel in the jock’s room, and while before he was wearing a baseball cap and a newspaper and a white top, the nation is now thrilled to discover that HE’S NAKED.  HE’S NAKED.  HE’S TOTALLY NAAAAAAAAAAAAAKED and the only thing preventing us from ascertaining his own gelding status is an artfully draped towel.  Bob announces that he’s watching us watching him, and the Level of Creepy rises fourteen million percent.

-Bob:  “We’re assuming that everyone knows these details, so…” So he’s going to repeat them.

-Footage of Borel at The Tonight Show, on which, fortunately, all seem fully clothed.

-Bob Baffert on the inclusion of Rachel Alexandra:  “The race went from being a vanilla cone to a banana split with all the toppings.”  First of all, don’t be dissing no vanilla cone.  Second of all… if a girl is entering where a girl doesn’t usually enter, I’m thinking that the word “banana” really isn’t the best analogy choice.

-Borel in the jock’s room talking to Mine That Bird's jockey, Mike Smith. I cannot imagine what’s being said here.  “Got clothes on?”  “Yep.  You?”


-GARY STEVENS! has been golfing or parking cars out in the Pimlico lot or something:  His neck is sunburned.  And yet, he fights on despite his handicap.  All hail The Stevens!

-In case you previously didn’t have reason enough to drink, we get a full twenty-second blast, deliberately and without provocation, of “Surfin' Bird.”  And in case you haven’t heard this song in a while, allow me to assure you that it’s every bit as obnoxious and horrible as you remember.  I cannot believe this nation reached  the Moon with that in the background.

-Donna Brothers is wearing all white, which compliments her six sets of goggles.  She demonstrates how jockeys pull each set down, one by one, when the going gets muddy.  If this is the closest we get to stripping for the rest of the broadcast, I will dance the night away happy.

-Mike Smith lying in the jock’s room, beneath an orange…towel… or… blanket…. or…something.  Well, if your key to victory is spelled “Snuggie,” who am I to argue.

-Discussion as to whether or not Curlin and Rachel Alexandra would be attracted to one another, seeing as she’s  “super filly” and he’s “super colt,” and also whether or not the product of a Night of Wonder would result in a “super horse,” and wow this conversation got from horse racing to Hilter WAY faster than I’m used to.

-To steer us from the awkwardness of the SuperHorse conversation, Tom Hammond reaches for the cheerful, safe ground of Eight Bells.

-GARY STEVENS! has produced a hard-hitting investigative report on Mine That Bird vs. Rachel Alexandra.  He has measured their respective worth by standing next to each and ascertaining which horse he could see over.  This is not a joke.

-Necessary Preakness Fact of the Day:  George Washington was a frequent guest at racetracks.  Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen.

-I’m assuming something really important happened at this point, such as further visual detailing of goggle strip teases and equine sex, but I am summoned from the bar to give my matron of honor toast.

-Return in time for The Montage of Calvin Borel, set, for some reason, against “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”  Oh, I see.  We’ve already blown the royalty budget on “Surfin Bird.”

-Dish.  Bob Costas asks what Borel and Mike “Snuggie” Smith were in conversation about.  Calvin says it was some sort of question about Mine That Bird.  See, why don’t I believe you, Calvin?

-Now Bob would like to know the following: If Mine That Bird won the Preakness, and Rachel Alexandra wasn't in the Belmont, and Calvin had the chance to ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont, and a train left California at 10:42 AM, and the ambient humidity was 57%, what would he do?  Calvin's response:  "...."

-Lucky U Texting Game!  Win a 2010 Preakness Stakes VIP Trip!  We desperately need to fill the infield!

-ZZ Top, because when you think “horseracing,” you think “I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide.”

-Mike Smith, deSnuggified.  I do like these silks.  They’re sparkly.  Really, any silks that don’t alter air traffic patterns are good, but anything which looks like it just came off the back of a cast member of Xanadu is a bonus.

-Borel leaves the jock's room, providing the world with an eye-level shot of him zipping up.  Very little is said about this.  Very little can be said.

-GARY STEVENS! remarks that Rachel Alexandra “looks so happy right now.”  Her mane is all trussed up in a bunch of little balls.   I would not be happy at all, with a hair day like that.

-“Riders up!”  Big improvement over the Derby coverage:  This time, we get to hear and see it.

-Oh, but don’t worry—NBC made darn sure there was talking over the call to post.  You’ve got one more race to nail this, people, or it’s epic fail for the 2009 Triple Crown season.

-Well, this bodes well:  Rafael Bejarano has to sprint across the paddock to catch up with his mount, Papa Clem.  Papa don’t wait for no small men.

-Here’s a sentence you don’t get to bust out every day:  “Our blimp had to vacate the area.”  Oh, no.  How are we going to see the enormous pulsating crowd on the infield?

-It’s confirmed that Luv Guv was named after New York governor Eliot Spitzer.  Why would you do that to a poor innocent colt?  Really, why?  Was “Monica’s Cigar“ not available?

-Bob uses the words “fortnight” AND “equine” in a sentence.  I eagerly await such flowery narration of Calvin’s crotch as it makes its way to the gate.

-Bob has an NBC Sports umbrella!  “The Woodlawn Vase taking on water as well,” he confirms.  I desperately want the military guard next to him to bust out a ShamWow.

-The words “captivating” and “intrepid” issue from the television set.  Well!  Someone’s got his thesaurus function on.

-Big Drama has bucked off Johnny Velasquez inside the gate.  Aaaaaaaaannnnnd nine thousand people tear their tickets into tiny little pieces.

-Rachel Alexandra in the lead.  We think.  There’s rain on the lens and the reception DJ in the ballroom has chosen this precise moment to play “Shout.”

-Much shrieking in the bar as Mine That Bird makes an astonishing challenge on the filly at the wire.  Much slapping of hands against mahogany:  “Another furlong and he would have had it.”  The women's college graduate in me is thrilled; the mocker of hype is devastated.  There is general agreement that Borel would have gotten Mine That Bird home in front. There is further agreement that we ought to take advantage of the open bar.

-Disappointingly, Borel is markedly calmer than after the Derby.  The meds are kicking in again.

-Mike Smith, covered in mud and piiiiiiiiiiissssssed.   “No one would let me in on the rail!”  Well-- yeah.

-Borel dumps water over Rachel Alexandra’s head...  bottled water.  My German ancestors and I cry out a thousand times.  I don’t care if Rachel Alexandra wins the Triple Crown and lays down on the finish line of the Belmont to give birth a miraculously conceived SuperMegaAwesome Foal, Savior of All Racing:  She doesn’t know the difference between Evian and Eau de Pimlico Backstretch Hose.

-I am hauled back into the ballroom.  Trophy presentation, thou hast been usurped by cake.

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Calvin has two jewels at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (9)

[...] Beth reports on the Preakness. Share and [...]

Gosh you make horse racing fun!!!

Pimlico will rue the day that they made the rules change on the infield! It's SUPPOSED to be mayhem, people!!! (I only got on somebody's shoulders and flashed people ONE TIME, though. Just once.) In "this economy" (my two faaaavorite words), who thought making people pay for their beer was a good idea????? Not gonna happen.

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKris

-It’s confirmed that “Luv Guv” was named after New York governor Eliot Spitzer. Why would you do that to a poor innocent colt? Really, why? Was “Monica’s Cigar“ not available?

OMG!!! That was hysterical funny. I have to admit I watched all this live whilst you were attending a wedding... and the next day I RAN to my computer to see the blow-by-blow you would provide and was devastated there was none. Whew. Thank you for posting this. My world has returned to its normal orbit!

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Bell

oh dear Lord there is now probably someone out there naming a filly "Monica's Cigar".

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

And, of course, the Jockey Club would let it through!!

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRennie's Girl

You are hereby awarded the Dorothy Parker Award. It IS an honor.

(Now, go to Hollywood and write scripts.)

Office Pool has started -


Pick the date on which Bloodhorse kills off its current 659-issue hitting streak

(Back-page guest commentaries sent in by racing industry cadavers ZZZZZZZ).

1st Prize:

Issue #660, in lieu of ZZZZZZZZ, they publish one of your lightning bolts

(Please insult BH advertisers.)

Runner-Up (Off by one day) Receives:

Complimentary copy, The BH Video - with Elvis impersonator singing theme song,

"GARY STEVENS! - "He Ain't Higher Than A Hound Dog!"

(Oh, heck, racing's dead, too. Go get the real Elvis.)

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDon Reed

[...] -Calvin Borel in the jock’s room, blessedly clothed. [...]

[...] PM: Donna Brothers with the On Horseback Report and a reprise of last year’s Preakness Burlesque Goggle Strip Show.  I liked ’09′s version better.  There was no needles prop of a horse, she felt the [...]

[...] NBC’s Mine That Bird vs. Rachel Alexandria version, which consisted of GARY STEVENS!–and I quote myself–”measur(ing) their respective worth by standing next to each and ascertaining which [...]

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