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Laffit For The Win

Welcome to an annual Blonde Champagne tradition, the Kentucky Derby liveblog.  For those of you The Readers new to these parts, the Triple Crown races, the Breeders' Cup, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics, and select Presidental debates are torn into edible Junior Mint-sized bits.  I'm glad you're here.  Pretty sure you're not going to be though.

This opening montage needs work.  It needs some of this.  Right?  Isn’t this a blank-darned joy?  I mean it.  I’ve downloaded the video as an mp3.  I RUN to it.  I do this even though of all the people featured here, I abhor one-third, cannot identify the other one-third, and am at best mildly amused by the remaining fraction.  Also apparently NBC is keen to celebrate the Super Bowl with the cast of Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit, because nothing says “national party” like “crimes of sexual violence.” AMERICA!

-Bob Costas, Live from the Cupola:  “We’ll spend a lot of time getting you set.”  I really can’t describe the personal terror and despair that follows this statement thanks to NBC's pre-game desperate mission to avoid the distribution of actual horseracing-related facts.  It's kind of like last week, when I was babysitting Sam The Baby Nephew, and the doorbell rang, and it was a neighbor, and she leaned down and got right up into his bidness, and Sam clamped onto my leg and slammed the door in her face.  That’s pretty much how the prospect of “We’ll spend a lot of time getting you set” makes me feel about the upcoming 114 minutes.  If it weren't for GARY STEVENS! and Donna Brothers, coverage would consist of 100% hat-related travails of various Style network personalities/0% actual information.

-There’s Aaron Rogers.  There’s Eli Manning.  There’s Bob Neumeier, referred to as “Neumie.”  There's Donna Brothers, horseside.  Mike Battaglia points out that we can bet many different ways, including “exactas… tri’s…”  There’s Millionaire’s Row.  There’s a stupid hat.  There’s an even stupider hat...  You know what, I’ve been doing this for a while now, and maybe I’m just old and tired, or maybe there’s no matching the year the liveblog was interrupted by the cops, but I’m pretty sure this was all shot in 2007 and it’s bounced off some lone asteroid and made its way back down to us and we’re just now seeing it and nobody’s noticed. Or I’m not drunk enough. 

-Interview with Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf.  Stephanie is wearing a hat.  Andre is not.  They have created another human being and named her “Jaz.”  I… what?  I’ve misheard that.  It’s got to be a nickame for “Jasmine.” 

-No.  It’s “Jaz.”  THEY NAMED THEIR CHILD JAZ.  But her middle name, “Elle”, is nice and short, so it’ll fit easily on the marquee down at the Boobie Bungalow in about a decade.  That was very thoughtful on Mom and Dad’s part.

-Commercial for ADT Pulse, which offers house-wide security cameras, so that “Lisa can know when her daughter is home from school.”  Lisa’s house:  Not at all creepy.  Book your barside seats now for when Lisa’s daughter Jello-wrestles Jaz.  

-Randy Moss is here in a lilac shirt and a plaid jacket and a tie I don’t even want to talk about. People, there are days when I wear nighties right up to three in the afternoon.  I have no space in which to criticize the sartorial choices of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  But when you’re sitting in front of a television in 2012 and somebody’s wearing something that stirs a primordial knowledge deep within to the realization that in twenty years a generation yet unborn will look upon this and turn to you and say “What were you people thinking?” in exactly in the same accusing tones I fling at my mother whenever I walk past a rerun of The Bob Newhart Show… you need to rethink your look.  


-Behold Bodemeister, one of the favorites.  He’s a Baffert horse.  He’s named after Baffert’s son, who in turn is named after Olympic skier Bode Miller.  We’ve met Bode The Child before.  Bode The Horse is fascinated by a rake handle outside his stall. Given what we know of Bode The Skier, this comes as no surprise.

-“Look what happened to Javier.”  Here’s footage of Gemologist jockey Javier Castellano from a prior race, falling right off.  This is referred to as “sort of losing his balance.”

-Let’s meet the horses.  Everybody has a senior yearbook photo.  Bodemeister’s got his mouth open and in general looks like the DMV took the picture before he was ready.  Everybody else has a blowy mane and Norris eyes.  Am I the only one who sees where this is going?

-Enough of useful information-- let’s talk to Debra Messing!  I don’t watch NBC’s KathElectra McDuctTape And America’s Totally Healthy Marilyn Monroe Fetish, or whatever that show is called, so I haven’t seen Debra since Will & Grace ended well over one Obama ago.  She looks about the same, which means that her forehead now contains approximately 45% more Botox.  Debra’s Derby horse is “Gemologist… Gemology?”  

-More celebrities coming up!  Ke$ha! Cyndia Lauper! Ashton Kutcher! Lindsey F-ing Vonn!  Cyndi Lauper!  Tom Brady in a truly idiotic Newsies hat!  Bill Bellicheck, who somehow always looks like he’s wearing a sweatshirt even when he’s wearing a suit!  Cyndi Lauper!  You guys!  I love this part! I can get up and refill my SoCo without missing a damn thing!

-Now we’re going to discuss fashion with some person or other from the Style Network.  We are reliably informed that “the fashion is out there!” and that “the bowtie is a very playful look from the 1920’s.”   Also she uses the word “hatmosphere.”  Meanwhile, I’ve never felt so alone.

-Let us now go to Jenna Wolf, who immediately endears herself to me by announcing that “I didn’t wear a bowtie or a hat.  I’m 0 for 2.”  Then she loses it all by attempting to “interview” I’ll Have Another, who tries to bite her.  Annnnnnnnnnd I now have my Derby horse.

-Hold all pre-taped idiocy!  Lindsey F-ing Vonn is here!  “You’ve become a bit of a regular.  What draws you back year after year?”  As the answer is no doubt “cameras and microphones,” there’s no need for me to actually listen to her reply, so I depart for further SoCo.

-Here’s pre-Blonde Champagne mention UK basketball coach John Calipari, last seen around these parts stirring up anger an’ such by appearing at a trophy celebration before a Reds game.  This created great consternation since it took place on Ohio soil, even though YOU CAN SEE KENTUCKY FROM THE STADIUM.  But never fear, Ohioans!  “The celebration is gonna end Tuesday.  And then we’re gonna worry about next year.” The riverboat gambler wandering around the background of the shot is mighty impressed.

-On the Grand Scale of FeaturePimping, here are the factors by which NBC ranks airtime:

     1)  Pending Death
     2)  Almost-Death
     3)  Recent Death
     4)  Connection to hit new sitcom Up All Night!
     5)  Death Within Past Five Geologic Ages
     6)  Ovary-having
     7)  Actual Merit

Unfortunately, none of the connections fulfill Category 1, so we must first hit near-rock bottom in the form of… Barbaro.  His trainer Michael Matz is here with Union Rags, who has received a great deal of press.  We are deluged with everyone’s favorite phrase, “Grief on the faces of all concerned," and then there are slow-mo images of Barbaro running, and somewhat incidentally, here's Union Rags.

Of course, Bob Baffert trumps Barbaro by having almost died of a heart attack six weeks ago.  That bumps him up to primetime coverage, closer to the race.  More on Bob’s near-death after the break!

-HORSES:  THEN AND NOW:  Baby pictures.  I’ll Have Another is the cutest.  Gemologist looks like he was born the size of a Paramount Marauder.

-For the first time, a female rider, Rosie Napravnik, has won the Kentucky Oaks .  Rosie, as noted repeatedly and in great detail last year, has breasts.  But she pretty much doesn’t let anybody see them, so that’s all we’re going to hear about her for now.  Bye Rosie!

-Back to Jenna Wolf and an interview with a breeder:  “Are any horse owners coming to you with the hopes of a Kentucky Derby horse?”  No, Jenna, the dream is all about constantly running 8th at Tampa Bay Downs. 

Jenna is then photographed outside the breeding barn as helmeted, flak-jacket wearing assistants help 2010 Derby winner Super Saver do the deed.  And guess what, almost one-third of all Thoroughbred foals never even make it the starting gate!  LULZ! Annnnnnnyway.

-Turf Classic— the lead ponies have roses braided into their tales.  This is far preferable to the real-life, person-sized My Little Pony ad which Facebook for some reason thought I’d be interested in:

Juuuuuuuuuuust a little bit racist.

-Joe Bravo is riding in this one. I like hearing Joe Bravo interviewed because he gives reporters the finger in such a manner that they admire the cut of his fingernail.  In this instance, it is definitively pointed out to him that this race right here, it’s not the Kentucky Derby, but the race before the Kentucky Derby.  So does he still, like, even care?  Joe:  “What race is not good to win? Any time you make it to the winner’s circle, it’s a good day.”  So there.

-5 PM and the coverage resets.  Bob has been in my SoCo.  He has one leg propped up on the brick planter in front of him.  He refers to the “revelry” taking place in the infield, and by “revelry” he pretty much means “uninterrupted spewing.”

-Let’s go to Laffit Pincay The Third!  What up Laffit Pincay The Third?  You know anybody in racing, Laffit Pincay The Third?  If so, who?

-Because nothing says “Kentucky Derby” like roses, hats, and an armband tat, here’s Mary J. Blige with all three plus the National Anthem.  Previously established melodies:  How do they work?

-NBC has formed a focus group with Bob Costas, Eli Manning and Rhianna, and it determines that tonight’s Saturday Night Live is going to be awesome!  Bob says, “You’re a pretty good actor, but your brother Peyton is one of the all time greats.” Bob is all about the self-esteem and the value of developing a positive sense of accomplishment outside of sibling comparison.  Catch the feel-good rainbow of Costas parenting.

-Kent Desormeaux, how you doin’.   This man simply refuses to age.  We need to breed him up to Tanning Mom to knock her influence out of the gene pool.

-We now have a Facebook poll to check in on.  Nobody’s voting for the favorites.  “America has chosen the field,”  we are told.  Then again, America let Snookie have a book deal, so let’s not go for this particular stroke of chalk just yet.

-Normally, the villain in just about any racing broadcast is Bob Baffert, but he gets a near-death pass this year in favor of the Root-For Slot, so we need another enemy.  This year it’s Hansen’s owner, Dr. Kendall Hansen.  Dude named the horse after himself!  Well, I never!  He’s the Ass Man of Thoroughbred racing!

-And now the question is upon us:  Is Dr. Hansen “disrespecting a good horse” with all this… this… self-naming?  This is how news media people ask, “Exactly how many bags of douche is this guy?”  This is why I did not last as a news media person, because I’d be all like, “18.5 bags of douche, Tom.”

-Can I just ask something?  What is this deep, reflexive connection between wealthy people large, fugly sunglasses?  Is this why I still shop at Dollar Tree?  Because I wear eyewear proportionate to the size of my actual face?

-And now:  Bob Baffert’s Heart Attack. This is delicate business, because I like Bob, I really do, and I’m glad he’s okay, but this feature has him crying and making verklempt faces and this unsettles all the Thoroughbred racing world, which fears change.  This is not the Bob Baffert we know.  The Bob Baffert we know is more carefully phrased as “Bob has such a big personality!” by which people mean “greater than or equal to 18.5 bags of douche.”

-The feature moves on to far more comfortable territory, namely, a discussion of Bob Baffert throwing up.

-The great champion Lava Man is lead pony for I'll Have Another.  I really can’t put too fine a point on how much I love this.  Lava Man’s all, “Naw, dude, you gotta be in front of all the other horses at the end.”

-The official fried chicken of the Kentucky Derby is… Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Everybody else out there who didn’t see this coming, drink.  Whatever, I’m drinking anyway.

-Speaking of, I missed my calling in the creation of a drinking game of taking a shot every time somebody unnecessarily calls Laffit Pincay The Third by name.   I’ll Have Another trainer Doug O’Neill slings an arm around him and is all, “Laffit, what up.”

-“Thank you, Laffit!”  Let’s go to the booth!  “All right, Laffit, thank you!”  I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch...

-Kenny Rice with Bob Baffert and Bode The Child.  Bode, how do you like your walk?  “It’s fun.”  Bob Baffert’s wife, what do you think about Bob Baffert?  It’s really too bad this horse has no owner, or jockey anyone has ever heard of.

-Having left Eli Manning in a satisfactory heap of tears and despondency, Bob Costas has moved on to the scale in the jockey’s room.  He’s with Kent Desormeaux and Calvin Borel, face hidden by his baseball cap and in general looking like he was called to the principal’s office for sneaking Natty Lite into the prom and then tweeting about it.

-Here’s Donna Brothers and her horrifying blouse.  Todd Pletcher, is this the most amount of people you’ve ever seen, like, anywhere?  Still losing Triple Crown races, Todd?  Okay, you go sit over there with Rosie.  

-Union Rags’ bangs are looking all Hiterly.  This horse is not winning today.

-GARY STEVENS is still here!

-Today’s Dream Bet Winner is Joel Einhorn of Flushing, New York, who entered the contest in the hopes that he would someday get the hell out of Flushing, New York.  He puts his money on Alpha, who currently stands at 20-1. 

Bob:  “He’ll go home with 2 million dollars!”  My mother:  “No, he’ll just go home.”

-Jockey roll call!  For serious, all these guys have to do is look at the camera and say their names and the name of their horse.  Martin Garcia manages to make this look like a four-second hostage video.  

-Donna Brothers on Barf Blouse patrol.  My mother, a retired schoolteacher, provides commentary far more useful than the whole hatmosphere business: “Do people ever look at themselves?”

-John Calipari with the riders up call. He’s standing there.  And standing there.  And standing there.  And his wife shoves him.  “Riders up!”  Championship!  Season!

-GARY STEVENS! on legging up: “It’s actually a very relaxing feeling, and I knew that I was the one in charge at that point.”  Really, in the event GARY STEVENS! ever unretires, you can either profit by this, or be destroyed.

-Alpha is all up in his lead pony’s grill.  This horse is not winning today.

-El Padrino means “the godfather” in Spanish.  And on Cinco de Mayo!  This horse is not winning today.

-Concerning Hansen:  

“Hansen is very peterbed.”

“He almost looks pink on his chest right now because it’s so hot.”

“This is what we call ‘washy.’”

“Hansen’s not only hot, he’s aggravated.”

“Oh, Hansen’s hard to control early.”


-On the line and they’re—wait, Union Rags wasn’t ready.  Can we do that again?  Can—can we…?  Never mind.

-Flying off the backstretch!  Is it bad that I checked my Facebook messages right before the start and now have the sudden impulse that I’ve gone too long without checking my Facebook messages?

-35.9 MPH.  I’m scared when I do that in a car.

-Bodemesiter has a 5 length lead.  “Look on my works, ye mockers of the lightly raced, and despair!”   

-I’ll Have Another does not approve this message.

-I’ll Have Another, now with 1000% more breeding privileges.

-Winning jockey Mario Gutierrez pets I’ll Have Another instead of trying to smack his fluffy mane off. Bold move.

-And now, NBC’s favorite feature, Crying Jockey With Hispanic Accent.  “Even if they gave me the pick of the whole field, I’d still pick him,” he says.  Aw. 

-I’ll Have Another’s little nose is dusty.  Gutierrez hurls a palmfull of water on him. This does not, for some reason, help.

-Let’s check to see if Bob Baffert is still alive.  Yep, still there!

-Doug O’Neill’s kid.  Daniel, what are we getting now?  “A hot tub!”  “He’s been wanting a hot tub forever!” Because first world problems.

-Review of the Start of Woe for Union Rags.  I would list in detail everything that went wrong with this trip, but I have to drive to Columbus on Tuesday.

-Hey, you know what’s real entertainment? The crumpling faces of small children standing next to their dads who almost just died, watching the horsie named after themselves lose in the last 200 yards.  Let’s watch it in slow motion.  Here’s the replay.  Here's the replay of the slo-mo.

-Doug O’Neill: “Laffit, I can’t believe it!” I’m—pretty sure Laffit didn’t ask him anything, and in fact doesn’t even have a live mic at the moment, but… I’m not arguing.  DRINK.

-I’ll Have Another’s eyes are shaded as the roses are laid on his back.  I must say that this detracts from the whole “They know when they win” theory.  On the Great Art Moments in Sport Scale, this ranks somewhere between “World Series MVP Takes Dump On the Infield” and “Physically Challenged Runner in Race Everyone Knew He Would Lose Loses Even Worse Than Expected.”

-Well now we know why Borel was so pissy during the Costas interview, other than the usual Costas-related reasons: He ran 19th.  U mad, bro?

-The Aftershow:  Parade of Pissed-off Losers on NBC Sports.  Thanks, Laffit!

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