Today I sit in my tiny apartment in Shreveport, Louisiana, listening to the anguished cries of my neighbors through the paper-thin walls. You see, they are all LSU fans, and as of this moment, their golden and purple team is scoreless against Alabama in the championship game. All week long, the neighbors have worn team t-shirts, a few sport new stickers or license plates on their cars, and there’s a banner hanging from the balcony above me featuring a growling LSU tiger. Local news stations have made this football game their top story for days, and online, my friends who are Louisiana natives (and a few Memphis folks, too) are abuzz with football cheers. Even though it looks like LSU is going to lose, the excitement around the team won’t wane.
In the coming weeks, horse racing will crank up its own hype machine for the biggest race in America – the Kentucky Derby. I will get out my Derby shirts, invest in a new one for this year, keep an eye out for Derby glasses at thrift shops and devour every scrap of news surrounding the first Saturday in May. It will be easy to keep track of this year, since my time is consumed with Derby news. I feel like I’m returning to the battlefield after a 2-year leave – while I was in school learning about horse racing, it was more scholarly articles, financial reports and equine anatomy than breaking news or workout reports.
But even though I was out of the loop, I was never lacking in enthusiasm. The excitement never dies for the Kentucky Derby, no matter how corporate CDN gets ($50 non-refundable ticket application fee? WTF?), or how inconsistent the 3-year-old crop is (different winners of every prep? YIKES!).
I have a feeling we will see some very good horses this year, not unlike 2007 – there is already a budding rivalry between Hansen and Union Rags, which I saw play out dramatically at the Breeders’ Cup. Sabercat is an intriguing contender, whom I also saw in-person at the Delta Jackpot. Then there’s Out Of Bounds, winner of the Sham stakes, a big, long-striding chestnut who could give the Darley powerhouse its first Derby win.
I am so excited! And it’s only January!
You can keep up with the Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders at Horse Racing Nation, and also take a look at the replays, interactive Derby trail and workout reports (all of which I help to collect and post!). And I will also comment here along the Derby trail, with stuff that won’t fit on HRN. As always, this is my own personal page, and I put on it what I want – I get no instructions from the Worldwide Headquarters.
Oaklawn opens Friday. I’m heading to Hot Springs on Saturday (weather permitting). Let’s get this Derby started 🙂