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« So... hi, then! | Main | Breeders' Cup, Part III: It Goes On and On and On and Oooonnnn Edition »

Breeders' Cup, Part IV: Perhaps The Whole "Quest For Perfection" Angle Was Somewhat Overplayed Edition

We are soberly informed that everything--the race, the post parade, the tides, the reunion of Addicted to Jane, the Democratic Primaries of the 1980 Presidential Election, everything--is on Zenyatta's own terms, and we're just, you know, witnesses to it.  Finally, some perspective.

-Interview with Al Stall, Jr., trainer of 5-1 Blame.  "Well," he says with absolutely no inflection, "I'm excited.  This is fun."

"Do you know you're going up against Zenyatta?"  He hadn't heard, I'm sure.

-I like Todd Pletcher's overcoat.  I bet it's at least London Fog.  He and his overcoat are asked about what they'll be looking for in terms of body language as Quality Road nears the gate to see if he's in the mood to enter it or not.  I'm thinking a lot of biting and planting his feet while, like, refusing to enter the stall.  Horses are mysterious like that.

-Zenyatta starting to Thriller video her way to the paddock.  Her groom makes a shushing motion.  Where was he for the past 48 hours?

-Mike Smith, you are not exactly painful to behold.  But, I'm sorry, the whole teal and pink deal somewhat detracts from the solemnity of the moment.  He looks like a Miami Beach dance club owner who's constantly concerned about being Very Fierce.

-Zenyatta, dancing herself sideways.  Someone holds up a neon pink poster, yelling her name to make sure she she reads it as she goes by.

-This poor horse.  She paws at the cobblestone leading to the paddock, not a fan of any of this.  Cops are making two-minute-warning, bird-flapping STFU hand motions.  Because what Thoroughbred doesn't like sustained shrieking from tens of thousands of small girls and their bourboned  mommies?

-Either ESPN's audio feed is down, or this is the best broadcasting decision since somebody canceled Family Matters:  There is utter silence from the anchor desks.

-Joe Tessitore:  "And so.  She has.  ARRIVED." I do wish they'd brought James Cameron on board to direct this crap.  It needs more anvil-from-the-sky drama, more self-importance, more Leonardo DiCaprio falling from great heights.

-"That was an interesting tour for Zenyatta," he adds.  Meh.  She should have gotten the Downs Tram Special, which includes a photo station with a cutout of Secretariat and a box lunch.

-Mike Smith is jogging down to the paddock.  Get there faster, Mike.  The Escalator of Destiny waits for no man.

-Well, this is what we've been waiting for:  The lights are on, and Zenyatta is underneath them.  If only we could throw in a replay of Calvin Borel vs. Javier Castellano vs. YouTube on the Jumbotron, ESPN's Hype Trifecta circuit would be complete.

-What th-- nobody said Paddy O'Prado was going to be here!  There's a grey in the program, children, and that changes everything.

-Okay, I've known the outcome of this race for two weeks now?  I'm kind of already familiar with how this is going to go?  And I still feel like I'm going to throw up.  I blame the vodka-Jack Daniels-Slurpee-absinthe-gin-Quaaludes cocktail, and also George W. Bush.

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

-Hank Goldberg likes Blame to win.  I think we all know whose fault this is now.

-Jerry Bailey has busted out his Magnificent Manly Gloves for the occasion.  He says to Mike Smith:  "God be with you!"  We're one "And also with you" from making this Trackside Mass, but frankly I don't know what an actual Catholic church would do with this many people in attendance.  Throw in a Chevy raffle, maybe.

-Bob Baffert's hair agrees to an interview.  What does he think about Zenyatta?  Even though his own horse is something of a second favorite?  What does he think about all of his pre-losing?

-Eleven hours and fifty minutes into the coverage, eleven hours and forty-five minutes of which has been Zenyatta-focused, Joe mentions that you know what, another horse might win this race.

-Quality Road, now one of the Borg, docilely enters the gate.

-The sun sets upon Bob Baffert's hair.  It's been a long day, people.


-Zenyatta, last, way last, as she wills it.  Her head is jerking away from the dirt in her face.  Seriously, it's like trying to do football drills in the line behind Pig Pen.

-'Round the bend.  Mike Smith:  "Um, you wanna, like, pick it up a little?  There's a horse race going on?  And I'm under a little bit of pressure here?"

-Trevor Denman with the call:  "Zenyatta is dead last.  Zenyatta trying to pick up the pace.  YOU HAVE CREATED THE POSSIBILITY YOU MIGHT NOT WIN NOW, ZENYATTA.  Mike Smith is looking for somewhere for Zenyatta to run.  Zenyatta needing a hole.  YOU BETTER NOT BLOW IT, ZENYATTA.  ARE YOU GOING TO START RUNNING YET, ZENYATTA? ZENYATTA!  DO YOU HEAR ME, ZENYATTA!?!?!??!

-There she goes, by way of the Gulf of Mexico.

-The terrorists--yes, all of them--step out in the streets of Afghanistan and shoot their AK-47s in the air so as to celebrate their eternal victory over the United States of America.

-That was a brilliant finish, and a really, really, really, really ....really quiet grandstand.  It's totally like this time I was at a Saturday morning faculty meeting and the dean said, "We're going to end twenty minutes early today," and then when the cheering stopped, he said, "One of our presenters just had a heart attack, and he's in the ICU."

-Jerry Bailey to Mike Smith:  "Hey, buddy.  How ya feeling?"  Still going with God?

-Mike is "a little bit devastated right now, Jerry."  Gee, why? Everybody's just been asking you to do the best you can, no pressure!

-Blame jockey Garrett Gomez is dourly asked "how he feels about beating the great Queen."  Okay, so did he actually get out a tire iron and start whaling on Elizabeth II?  No?  Can the entire crowd stop screaming "J'ACCUSSSSSEEEE!" as he rides by?

-Did Zenyatta's trainer ever prepare himself for losing a race?  Well goodness, I'm awfully glad we waited until this particular moment to raise the issue.

-Mike Smith kisses Zenyatta next to her mane before dismounting.  The world sniffles.

-Joe:  "We both picked Blame to beat her, and you almost feel guilty."  Once more, Churchill Downs becomes an avatar of the Catholic Church.  He and Jerry speak in near-whispers, as is appropriate to a national tragedy of this magnitude.

-That is one apologetic-looking Winner's Circle.

-"Mr. Hancock, what does it mean to you to make little girls everywhere cry themselves to sleep for the rest of their formative years, more than likely sending them to lives of web cam soft porn and alley prostitution?"

-Guess what!  We care about college football again!

juuuuuuuuuuuust about 10,000 words; I demand a replica trophy at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (5)

Wow...I made it through all four editions...totally exhausted and need a drink.
Great work, as always!

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGeno


November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVespone

Thank. You.

I watched almost all the coverage on Saturday. But this... this brings it back to life for me.


November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

By far the best of the four parts! Something tells me that your previous wit workouts weren’t exactly inspired by the legion of mediocrities passing by the parade review stand during the preliminaries.

Loved it, loved it. And Hank (nickname: “The Neighborhood Whiffle Ball”) actually picking a winner; Z losing; the Life At Ten bank job; & the wax Lawn Jockeys who came to life as Rock’em Sock’em foozeball kickers explains why the two-day affair, by & large, rewarded the yoyos & the yahoos.

Thanks goodness trainers Motion & Mott excelled; otherwise, I would have forgotten what it’s like to witness good, decent people getting ahead in life.

Now, let’s all go hammer “ex”-trainer Larry Jones for accepting all of the going-away retirement gifts & then re-appearing ten months later, “JUST Kidding!”

No, it is I who kids; welcome back LJ. And, Larry, don’t forget to get that dorky Larry Hagman racing beret of yours dry-cleaned, ya understand? In fact, this is eerie. I just glimpsed a headline that Hagman is somehow coming back to star in one of his old shows again. This is our last chance to see how zombies can hit their marks & win Emmys, I guess.

New winning category: The Mummies.

Best Line: Part Three, the eternally cluelessness Tessitore (GD it, this column has forced me to remember how to spell his worthless name), with his unwitting sexual profanity couched in terms of seemingly simple, innocent track dirt geography.

He is, according to QuickLove.com, the world’s 3rd Worst Blind Date, the man who activates an Eros Amber Alert simply by the act of his buying flowers on the way to meeting someone new.

Can’t wait to see HIM again in May 2011.

Again, thanks for the opportunity to laugh.

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDon Reed

Happy Thanksgiving!

I imagine it must be really tough, this being the first Thanksgiving you spend without your dad; but you should think that he's never really left you.

November 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie
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