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Notes From the Back of a Black-Eyed Susan, Edition VIII: Without Bob

UPDATE:  Thanks for the link, Equidaily!  Welcome, ya crazy rail sittin' bettin' breedin' horsefolk!

It's occurred to me that maybe I’ve been a little tough on NBC and its past coverage of the Preakness.  And the Derby, and the Belmont, and the Olympics.  And all else.  I should be kinder; at least NBC is broadcasting horseracing nationally, and it has, in its wisdom, brought GARY STEVENS! to his proper place on my television screen, from which he may further command his minions of Jockey Domination Via Sheer Force of Awesome.

I suppose I’m merely experiencing seething remnants of bitterness and hatred towards legacy television in general over this season’s shocking! finale! of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, the same network which giveth unto us the Official Quarterback of Blonde Champagne, Boomer Esiason.

Did you see this?   People, there’s a reason why I became a nonfiction writer instead of a novelist.  It’s because I’m incredibly plot-stupid.  I was twenty-two years old and on my umpteenth viewing of The Sound of Music before realizing exactly why Julie Andrews was so unduly bitchy to the nice Nazis who just wanted to help start the Captain’s car.  And yet I HAVE KNOWN FOR OVER A YEAR WITHOUT A DOUBT THAT BARNEY MARRIES ROBIN.  It was the entertainment equivalent of hiding a stuffed bunny under a table for a five-month old, and being all “Where’s the bunny?”  and the baby is utterly baffled and concerned, and then you triumphantly produce the bunny, with much fanfare and gasping, and the five-month old is all “HOLY SHIT THERE’S THE BUNNY!  YOU’RE A WIZARD!!!!!” and is delighted until the bunny inexplicitly vanishes again.  That is how the finale of HIMYM was presented.  As unto a five-month-old.  YOU’RE ALL WIZARDS, PEOPLE WHO WRITE HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER!!!

And so NBC shall feel my wrath.  There’s just nowhere else for it to go.  It’s not fair and it’s not right but life sucks and oh look there’s I’ll Have Another refusing to look directly into the camera.

-Randy Moss:  “Tom, the Number One Question for the Preakness is, does Bodemeister have enough gas left in the tank?”  Actually, the Number One Question for the Preakness is “What’s its official fried chicken?” but I’m fairly and sadly certain that Randy hasn’t given a whole lot of thought to that one.

-Mike Battaglia: “I think Bodemeister had a legitimate excuse for losing in the Kentucky Derby.”  What’s particularly hilarious about this is B-roll of Bodemeister hanging out in his stall is unspooling as his legitimate excuses are discussed, and the second Battaglia starts listing them, Bodemeister’s ears prick forward and his head swings to the camera.  That’s right, Bodemeister, all your spinmasters are out here twirlin’ for ya. 

-You can vote for who you think will win the Preakness Stakes via Facebook!  All you’ll have to do is endure a forced profile Borgization to Timeline, offer up your home address and those of all your friends, and denounce your God.  But… Facebook poll!  Totally worth it!

-List of Derby finishers who are also running in the Preakness.  As a horseracing fan, I am relatively happy with this actually useful coverage, which means that as a writer, I’m devastated.


-I’ll Have Another owner Paul Reddam “is a wealthy man.”  Well, now we know who’s in the Do Not Root For slot for this particular Triple Crown jewel.

-Donna Brothers in the jockey room: “This is the spot where I would be interviewing Mario Gutierrez!”  Only you’re not, Donna, and it’s either because he agreed to the interview and begged off, or told the producer to take a flying leap to begin with and the director thought we might enjoy staring at the scuzztacular glory which is the interior of Pimlico’s jock room.  Either way… you’ve won this round, Senor Gutierrez.

-There are pimps, there are ho’s, and then there are wholly unnecessary professional athletes.  In the Yes. SKIP INTRO. Please.absence of Lindsey F-ing Vonn, here are some beach volleyball players. 

-“I thought I saw Kegasus there for a minute!... No, maybe not.”  That was not in any way amusing, Tom Hammond.  You DO NOT issue false Kegasus warnings.  It’s like blasting a tsunami evacuation any ol’ time, with the same terrified screaming, mass hysteria, and wild trampling away from the epicenter of the horror. 

-Legitimately interesting segment on Tiger Walk owner Kevin Plank, the creator and CEO of Under Armour:  He’s bought and refurbished historic Sagamore Farm, the home of the great racer and stud Native Dancer.  And you know why? His family is from Maryland, he went to college here, he now lives in Baltimore, and didn’t want to lose the Preakness if the local breeding industry continued to circle the drain.  So, with his own money, Kevin Plank invested in the industry and his state.

But you know what, Randy Moss reminds us?  Kevin Planks’s a billionaire.  A billionaire, with his billions, which is more than you have, right?  OCCUPY SAGAMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!  EVERYBODY POOP ON THE MANURE OF THE THOROUGHBRED OPPRESSORS!

-Um, so, we’re like an hour in now, and…

Where’s Bob Costas?

Here’s footage the Woodlawn Vase, THEMOSTVALUABLETROPHYINSPORTS, all alone and valuable in its be-holed Plexiglass case, and under a cupola, and… Bob’s not here to say “cupola” and call it THEMOSTVALUABLETROPHYINSPORTS.  I--- did the world end?

-…But never fear, we have Laffit Pincay The Third!  Bein’ the son of Laffit Pincay, Junior, straight up! 

-We need a backup for the Preakness Antichrist in case utter class warfare isn’t your thing.  Hansen hasn't shown for the Preakness, so in case you were wondering who else to hate this fine Maryland afternoon, here’s Doug O’Neill and his “sixteen test violations in three states over fourteen years.”  O’Neill, who is not stupid, is wearing a baseball cap covered with the autographs of sick children and also a tee shirt which says “I HEART SMALL ORPHANED PUPPIES.”  He says, “Have I run some horses in spots that I shouldn’t have?  Yes, you know, I could do better.  And I’m gonna do better.”  Somebody says something about the increased attention that comes with a Derby win and subsequent Preakness appearance.  Stewart Elliott just emailed all, “Really?  I hadn’t heard.

-Back to GARY STEVENS!, leaning back in his chair and looking Very Stern.  Uh-oh.

-Here’s Paul Reddam himself, taking a brief break from his usual constant immersion in his Scrooge McDuck-style swimming pool filled to the brim with skillion dollar bills. “To me,” he says of O’Neill, “he runs a very clean shop.”  Well then.

-You guys, do you remember how in the Kentucky Derby, Bode Baffert’s daddy’s horsie which was named after him lost in the last second, right after his daddy almost died, and NBC found it necessary to ram a camera up in Bode’s crumpled little face, AND IT WAS COMPLETELY AMAZING ENTERTAINMENT?  Well, because there’s no footage of kittens being drowned in a dirty sack, here’s a rerun of that, and also a rerun of Bob crying during the walkover, and also a furlong by furlong replay of the race from the Baffert family perspective, including the information that at one point during the race Bob leaned over his little son and said “That’s Bodemeister in front,” to which he said, “I know.”  Please repeat this service for the Belmont, NBC, as we are all eager to lick the tears from his freckled little visage when this happens again.  I need to up my agonized small child salt intake.

-That’s a look at the stable area, dotted by three enormous Budweiser trailers.  Classin' it up, Pimlico.  Steppin' on from the usual dumpings of Wild Irish Rose and Natty Lite.

-And now, ladies and gentlemen, The Greatest Thing in the History Of All Things.

It’s Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey and GARY STEVENS! previewing the stretch race between Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another… in the Pimlico starting gate… on a fake Bodemesiter and a fake I’ll Have Another.  You know the last time these two did this?  In Seabiscuit.  At fake Pimlico on a fake War Admiral and a fake Seabiscuit, as fake Charlie Kurtsinger and fake George Woolf.  

But now… the drama is all too real.  

GARY STEVENS! says, “I’m on Bodemeister in the 7 hole. I wonder what Bailey’s gonna do.”  Oh GARY, don’t we all, don’t we all.

Jerry says, “I’m on I’ll Have Another in the 9. I can’t let him get away too quick.”  But… oh, Jerry, he is THE STEVENS.  He appears and vanishes at will, and he shall do so at his own accord.

They then make their way around the track.  These horses are in no way actually running, btw; they’re sub-breezing.  They’re quasi-trotting.  They’re… a little sideways, actually.

There then follows the following conversation:

GARY STEVENS!:  I got a lot of speed!

Jerry:  I can hear the crowd!  Oh but I got horse, I got a lot of horse.

GARY STEVENS!:  I got a lot of horse too!

They’re both standing in the saddle, hauling on the reins and looking like they are in immense pain. In the case of GARY STEVENS!, of course, it’s the agony of holding back on unleashing the full measure of his mighty self upon this grand event, for were he to do so, he would destroy Jerry Bailey, Fake Bodemeister, and all of Maryland.  And he knows too well the great responsibility he carries with the power that comes from being GARY STEVENS!, and so, just this once, he to retreats behind his occasional guise of being an ordinary mortal man.

-Jockey pictures.  Everybody’s sitting on a CGI bale of hay with various poses of themselves flung up in the background, as though they were posing for  the most LSD-influenced yearbook pages ever, or images of themselves as particularly equine-friendly third world dictators.

-Here’s Cozetti trainer Dale Romans: “Well, he’s never finished a race totally focused.” I am placing my bet RIGHT THIS SECOND on that hot tip. 

-And now, a discussion of Went The Day Well, starring trainer Graham Motion’s British accent. 

-“Donna, let’s go to Laffit Pincay The Third”, who is—oh, incidentally with Mike Smith.

-Jock photo, set grandly against a grey sheet somebody forgot to iron.  Oh, Pimlico, the POST of the Triple Crown tracks… what would we do without your ghettofab POST’in self?

-Kent Desormeaux failed a breathalyzer and has replaced by Ramon Dominegez.  Kent, my friend, you have fallen far from your classy, highbrow days of  "She throws her body down every time I turn her loose!" 

-Meet The Jockeys!  Our good friend Joe Bravo throws in an f-you head bob while introducing himself and Teeth of the Dog.  You are dreamy, Joe Bravo.

-I’ll Have Another has a pretty shaded tail.  Are those highlights?  Did dude get highlights?  Come on, he totally went to Great Clips and got highlights and he’s all Hollywood-Derby-flash and too good for the rest of us now.

-GARY STEVENS! virtually lays out how he thinks the race will unfold.  Crowing moment:  E-Mike Smith, e-whipping in the stretch.

-Professional Horseracing Coverage Blogger Note:  The “Riders up” call is slightly more dramatic when not said at same time it is being announced by the broadcast team

-The post parade begins with Zetterholm totally lifting tail and pooping.  This is going to the best Preakness EVER.

-I’ll Have Another goes by, head bobbing next to Lava Man’s.  You just know Lava Man is all, “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.  What with your foil highlights and all.”

-Optimizer is pretty much being dragged to gate.  Ah, this bodes well for young Optimizer. Optimizer and Cozetti in a tie at the wire!

- Cozzeti joins the OCCUPY SAGAMORE pooping protest.

-Everybody’s loaded.  Oh, and the horses are also in the gate!  Clink!  Rim shot!

-Zetterholm, that pooping, everything-ruining three year old, bounces around in the gate.  Somewhere in Kentucky, Union Rags, still sulking in his stall after the Derby, hurls a beer bottle against the wall.

-Early fractions are m—u-u-u---uuu—cch slll---ooo-o-o-ooo-ee—eeee—rrrrr—rrrr than the Derby’s. Bodemeister’s got this.

-I’ll Have Another is bearing down at the wire.  Nah, he’s had another pretty wide trip, he’s done.

-So yeah, like I said.  Bodemesiter.  Winning.

-Bob Baffert And His Crying Child.  Bob mouths something not fit for his small child’s ears.  THERAPY FOR LIFE.

-Painting of the winning silks on the weathervane.  I bet the poor guy who gets this job bolts out of bed weeks before the Preakness in utter terror that one of these years, something like this shows up on the entry list.

-Went The Day Well is deemed a “major disappointment” what with his losing and all.  Those tea and crumpets and Mr. Darcys are only going to get you so far in this town, honey.

-The interview with winning trainer O’Neill includes, for the second time and for far longer, an appearance by his son, Daniel.  Lookit, a kid’s a kid.  I’m a proud aunt.  I know this.  But after maybe four seconds of Daniel, I’m quietly marking this down as The Triple Crown of Free Birth Control.  Thanks, NBC!

-“Thank you Laffit! Let’s go back to Tom Hammond!” “All right, Laffit.”  ...Bob?

-The angry roiling masses demanding that these proceedings be properly Costasized are soothed with a mention of “the elusive Triple Crown.”  Ain’t a Triple Crown if it ain’t elusive.  I heart you, horseracing aphorisms.  See you suckas in New York.

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