Derby 2012: Your Handy Dandy Guide: Part 1

This year’s edition of the Run for the Roses is both a tale of two horses and an endless array of potential victors. Here, in part one, we shall discuss the Hansen and Union Rags, tent pole horses the both of them.

Hansen as a two-year-old, just before the BC Juvenile. He's even whiter now.

1.) We will start with Hansen. Last year’s two-year-old Eclipse Award winning champion, Hansen did a most unusual thing – he moved on from two to three, proving himself to be a fast, classy, and consistent colt. It is exceedingly rare these days for the two year champion to make anything of himself as a three year old, but Hansen has done so, through raw heart and determination if nothing else. He has finished second twice and won the Gotham in fine style, actually laying off the pace before making a move. This is the only time Hansen has successfully relaxed in a race, for his modus operandi is to go to the front and go as fast as he can for as long as he can, hoping to hit the wire first. The horse is all heart, and he gets little respect from the experts. The feeling is, Hansen won’t last the mile and a quarter, and with other speed horses in the race, he won’t get an easy lead, either.

The lack of respect for Hansen goes deeper than that, though. His two-year-old season started out at Turfway Park, running against less than awesome competition. When he beat the favorite, Union Rags, in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile, people were quick to say it was because of the poor trip Union Rags had. There is also the fact that Hansen, though almost white and therefore quite flashy, isn’t a big or handsome colt. And last of all, there is the fact that Hansen is owned by a world class moron named Dr. Hansen. Dr. Hansen insists on having a cadre of Hooter-esque women, dressed in the stable’s colors, lead the horse out to the paddock. Moreover, he has repeatedly tried to dye the horse’s white tail blue. In short, the man is completely devoid of good sense and decency, and is always looking to make a spectacle of his colt. Hansen the horse is an animal with a lot of dignity. He tries his heart out every time. I take a lot of umbrage at the way his owner treats him as a self-promotional tool.

In conclusion, Hansen undefeated as a two-year-old, stakes placed and stakes winning this year, will enter the Derby as the Rodney Dangerfield of the field. He is small, short-necked, too intent on the lead, might have distance limitations, and is owned by an idiot. But I have nothing but respect for this determined competitor.  

As a side note, Hansen is ridden by world class jockey Ramon Dominguez. However, Ramon is coming off an injury, and this concerns me. Hansen will be 100% coming into the race, but will Ramon? He rode in the Wood Memorial, and his performance on second placed Alpha left a lot to be desired. Luckily, the injury was minor, a separated collarbone, and likely Ramon will be ready to give it his best shot on the first Saturday in May.

Union Rags is a big, handsome boy.

2.) Secondly, we have Union Rags. Union Rags is everything that Hansen is not. He is an enormous, gorgeous horse, with bold bay coloring and striking white markings. He looks like a Derby winner, he is trained by Michael Matz, who brought Barbaro to the Derby in 2006, and he is owned by normal people. They’re so normal I don’t even know who they are. He is ridden by the Frenchman Julien Leparoux – sometimes well, sometimes poorly.

As a two-year-old, Union Rags won the Champagne and the Saratoga Special in New York, stamping himself as the establishment favorite. In the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile, he came up just short, losing to Hansen. As a three-year-old, he devastated the Fountain of Youth field. He then entered the Florida Derby, everybody’s favorite to win. Unfortunately, Julien ran into some serious “race riding.” Which is to say, other jocks conspired to keep him pinned down at the rail with the favorite. Then, on the turn for home, Julien did that awkward dance thing. Should I go inside? Outside? Inside? Outside? Union Rags is a big horse, and none too handy. After Julien finally committed, it took the bay colt too long to get rolling, and he wound up third. Was it a bad third? No. Does it mean he won’t win the Derby? No. But it does reveal some weaknesses. Although one could say the Florida Derby was a good learning experience. Just ask Michael Matz, who said, “The good part is I hope that Julien learned about the horse a little bit more…The good thing about it is Julien will put himself in a better position where he won’t let that happen again…I’m sure Julien is harder on himself than everyone else is and that he should have got him running a little bit more at the beginning.” Heh heh heh. For a guy as diplomatic and nice as Matz, that level of criticism is like a string of curse words.

Additionally, it could be argued that it is Union Rags who might be a little short on stamina for the mile and a quarter. His pedigree doesn’t say he can’t do it, but it doesn’t scream that he can, either. In conclusion, in Union Rags you have a similar situation as in Hansen – a talented, consistent colt, but one with some question marks.

If you have a few spare minutes, catch yourself up to date on their signature races:

Union Rags’ Fountain of Youth

Hansen’s Kentucky Cup Juvenile

The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile – This is the race that decided the two-year-old championship. The third place horse, Creative Cause, will be discussed in Part II, and the fourth place horse, Dullahan, will be discussed in Part III.

A Fistful of Flowers

So, we had a party for my friend Tamara. Tamara is a microbiologist by day, actress by night, and Friday was opening night for her new play. Our house is about a block from the theater, so we decided to host cockails before and after the show in Tamara’s honor.

We wound up with more people showing up after the play than before, but even so, ten of us toasted T at our house then sallyed forth for the theater. As we sallyed we had nary a worry or concern in our little heads, all was joy and light and happiness. The play was a delightful farce that featured an awful lot of opening and closing doors, along with mistaken identities and shenanigans. It was entertaining and fun and joy and light and happiness. Tamara was brilliant in the performance, as were my shoes, who played an important supporting role on T’s feet.

The cast did an imaginative and hilarious curtain call, and then all the actors lined up and bowed. That’s when a low, slow motion voice in the back of my mind said, “Ohhh nooo…we didn’t get Tamara flowers. You’re supposed to get actresses flowers…” I turned first to my friend Anna, a for real opera singer. Anna knows about post performance flowers. I said to Anna, “We didn’t get T flowers!” “Ohhh noooo….” said Anna. I proceeded to ask every single one of our ten friends if they had brought flowers, even though we all had sallyed forth together, and I knew full well no one had flowers. Last of all I asked Anderson, T’s special fella. “Did you think of flowers?” I asked him. “I’ve been thinking about flowers for the last four hours,” Anderson replied.

We had failed. All of us.

Except some of us had a will to succeed. And when I say some of us, I mean Brenden, who found out from Dinger that the Bi-Lo was open until 11. We agreed Anderson should stay behind to be there when Tamara emerged, but I volunteered to go on the hunt for a bouquet. Brenden threw his scarf over his shoulder and said, “Yes! Stay here!” as he ran off down the street, his scarf streaming in the wind.

Only, I didn’t hear the “Yes!” part. I only heard the “Stay Here!” And as “here” was the after-the-play reception, replete with wine, finger sandwiches and all manner of dips and other food delights, I thought to myself, Don’t mind if I do… and wandered away, thinking about a grand fellow Brenden was.

A few minutes later, Alrinthea walked up to me, and when I saw the expression on her face, several things suddenly became clear. I asked her, “When Brenden said ‘Stay Here!’ he meant stay in that little spot on the sidewalk, didn’t he? And he ran and got his car and I wasn’t there because I was here drinking a glass of wine and eating finger sandwiches?”

Alrinthea nodded and said, “He pulled up in his car like Batman and said, ‘Where’s Carrie?’ And when I said I didn’t know, he said, ‘I can’t wait. Tell her I’ve gone for the flowers.’ Then he raced off into the night.” Making this retelling all the better was Al’s rather glorious Christian Bale-as-Batman impression.

I went over to Anderson, and told him what had just happened. We agreed it was fitting that after watching a farce we then had a farcical misunderstanding of the request to “Stay here!” I suggested to Anderson that perhaps we should start opening and closing some doors.  

All of these things were stolen.

I kept an eye out for Brenden, and just as I started to worry about the amount of time that had elapsed, he appeared, holding his arm behind his back. I worked my way through the crowd and up to the hero of the hour. “Did you get the flowers?” I asked. “Well,” he said, “sort of.” He then revealed a fistful of pink flowers.Their roots had been carefully tucked into a little ball. “Let’s go outside,” I said, and guided Brenden and his flowers out of the reception hall.

“I went to the Bi-Lo,” Brenden said, “And the hours were posted, they’re open until 11, but the one door didn’t open, so I went to the other door, and it didn’t open, and there was a guy walking around in there, and then I see a sign that said, ‘Closing at 10 for renovations.’ It was 10:04! I got there at 10:04!”

*

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

*
“Then there were all these potted plants out front and I briefly considered taking one, but I figured there were security cameras, and who wants a potted plant? You don’t give an actress a potted plant after a performance. Then I see the CVS and I go there, but no flowers. But out front they have these perfectly mounded plants with pink flowers, so…” Brenden then gestured to his fistful of pink flowers. “One perfect mound is now missing a chunk.” He added, “I tried to pick off the roots on the way back.”

I thanked Brenden profusely for his heroic actions, then hid the pink flowers in one of the large pots out front of the reception hall. On the way home, I retrieved the pink flowers, picked off the rest of their roots, and I started to find some flower friends for them. I passed a huge flowering hedge, and liberated some branches. I passed some pretty pansies, and picked a couple. Finally, nature provided some beautiful honeysuckle to complete the bouquet.

Once home, I fetched a vase and put the stolen bounty in some water. It was a surprisingly pretty bouquet, in my humble estimation.

We then presented T with her flowers, and, more importantly, with a full scale reinactment, each of us playing our respective parts. Tamara laughed so hard she cried, and graciously said it was the most memorable after-the-show bouquet she’d ever received.

True Story

This photo expresses the level of class displayed by my mother on a daily basis.

As a heads up – this story probably shouldn’t be read by people who are easily offended or who have a high opinion of me. Also, if you have a high opinion of me, I am sorry to inform you that you have been tricked. I am not the classy dame you think I am.

This story begins with a gentleman familiar to readers of this blog. A gentleman named BOTASTIC. While BOTASTIC will always remain in my heart, and I love him dearly, my earlier depiction of him left out some things. Lots and lots of things, actually. You see, BOTASTIC is not the classy gent you think he is. BOTASTIC is, in fact, a world class chain puller, and a sometimes user of salty language.

Additionally, for this Actual Real True Story, you need to be introduced to the character of my phone. It is an iPhone. It hates me. I hate it. The stupid sensor doesn’t work, so my face is constantly hitting mute, hitting speaker, making conferance calls, writing emails. You name it, the right side of my face does it. Who knew the right side of my face even had fingers. But apparently, it has, like, a million, given how many tasks it accomplishes in a two minute phone call.

Finally, there is my mom. Please read about her here. My mother is, in all ways, a complete and total classy dame, one who has never used salty language in her entire life. Out of deference, I have always followed her lead whilst in her company. Because while I may not be a classy dame, but I am a.) not an idiot and b.) genuinely respectful.

You may already see where this is going.

So, I am having a verbal slugfest with BOTASTIC. He is pulling my chain with wild abandon, and I am yelling at him. More to the point, I am yelling at him with salty language. My phone beeps, and I look down. It is my mom. I decide not to answer. I am too busy yelling at BOTASTIC.

The right side of my face, though, has different ideas. “I am totally going to answer this,” says the right side of my face, and it does so, without telling me.

This guy is more representative of my own class level.

And so I wind up yelling this: PUNK A** M*********** not at BOTASTIC, but at MY MOTHER. MY CLASSY, CLASSY MOTHER. I YELL THIS. AT HER.

There is silence.

Mom: Whaaat????

Me: (sheer panic) I was talking to Bo! I was talking to Bo!

Mom: My daughter talks like that?????

Me: Bo was pulling my chain! Bo was pulling my chain!

Mom: I don’t care if Bo was pulling your chain, you don’t talk like that!

Me: I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

Mom: Well look, I am only calling you because I felt guilty I hadn’t called you back yet, but I am busy, and apparently, so are you.

Me: I am so sorry!

Mom: Talk to you later.

We hang up. I call BOTASTIC back. I explain to him both what occurred, and also his responsibility for this incident. BOTASTIC, who is a consultant, by the way, then says, “I think this is good. I think this is an opportunity for greater honesty, greater closeness, with your mother. I think this is going to lead to a high point in your relationship. I think you’re going to reach a new plane of understanding.” As previously mentioned, BOTASTIC is a PUNK A** M***********.

That night, my mom invites me to a movie. You better believe I am there with bells on the next day. I get to my parents house, and my dad, who is a lot like Santa Claus, gives me a hug and goes into his typical spiel. This is his spiel, by the way: “I want you to know how proud I am of you, how special you are to us, and how much I love you.” I am deeply, deeply surprised by this reception.

My dad leaves the room, I look at my mom, and she mouths the words, “I didn’t tell him.” And then she smiles a deliciously wicked smile.

Which just goes to show, my mom might be classy dame, but I know where I got my naughty streak from.

Dear Blake

Many moons ago, when I started this blog, I thought out in advance a sort of governing code of ethics. I do a lot of ranting, a lot of mocking. There were some ranting stories I wanted to tell, but I felt uncomfortable with them because they were stories about regular joes. Ultimately, I decided I would rant about public figures, Rolling Stone magazine’s various lists, and I’d tell stories where I am the goat, but I would never write a negative story about a regular joe.

And then I met Blake.

Blake who hates water.

You want this? Can't have it.

Blake is a server at an airport restaurant. Ursula (who recently turned 90, by the way) and I went to this restaurant while we were waiting for Evan’s plane to come in. As it turned out, his flight got delayed, which was convenient, as we were at this restaurant for about a month and a half.

We arrived for an early dinner and the restaurant was close to empty. On the menu was a french dip sandwich, and Ursula shocked me by telling me she’d never had a french dip with au jus. So we decide to both order the french dip. Now, it took us awhile to come to this decision, and I start looking around for the waiter who’d seated us. He is oddly absent. (Hint, hint, this will become a theme.)

Eventually, he shows up and informs us they’re out of the french dip. For the best, I say to myself, I should really get the chicken breast and veggies anyway. Blake then informs me they’re out of vegetables. VEGETABLES. So then I order a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, which they can make. Riddle me that, fanfreakingtastic readers. You can make a Philly cheesesteak but you can’t make a french dip and you have no vegetables. So, peppers and onions aren’t vegetables? A french dip is not the exact same thing as a Philly cheesesteak minus said vegetables? Apparently not.

During the conversation wherein Blake informs us we’ve actually time traveled back to late 80’s Soviet Russia, where there is little food and even less logic, Blake starts to give off a real punk kid kind of vibe. I didn’t like him from the first but now I really don’t like him. Before he leaves we ask for glasses of water. He’d successfully delivered cups of coffee when we first arrived, back when we were young and innocent. Ursula has dry mouth really badly, a relic of her past fight with thyroid cancer, and it’s super hard for her to eat without water.

Ursula and I settle in to wait for our food. Several months pass. Ursula turns 91, and it’s sad because no one is there to help celebrate.  Finally, finally, finally, Blake returns with our food. “We really need water,” I say. And then Blake says this, “I’ll get to it when I can.” I then watch him as he cleans off dirty tables, seats people, takes orders, and generally does everything he can do other than get our water.

Two enormous African-American men sit down behind us. They remind me tremendously of Grizz and Dot Com from 30 Rock. They sit in silence, both absorbed by their iPhones. After a certain point, I swivel around in my chair so I can watch for Blake unemcumbered.  It’s been a long time since my last sighting of the elusive Blake, and I don’t want to miss a chance to glimpse this most rare species. When they see me turn around, the two men say, “If you want anything, you best just go get it yourself.” I take it they are regulars.

And there he is! I’ve spotted him! Blake is approaching and I’m ready to reach out and nab him. But another woman gets him first, saying, “We’ve asked for our waters three times now.” Blake raises his hands angrily and says, “It’s going to be awhile.” He leaves, and the woman and I exchange murderous looks. I think about forming a cabal to jump Blake and pummel the water out of him. Because, really, it’s all about the water hate for Blake. He will consent to bring you food, even coffee. But water? The hell are you thinking? Asking for water! IT’S BENEATH HIM. And why do all this people want water, anyway? WATER IS FROM THE DEVIL.

At this point, Ursula has choked down her chicken tenders without water, and I’ve eaten my sandwich. I just want to get the hell out. As he walks past, intent on ignoring us, I shout that I want the bill. We wait for about another six weeks.

He brings us, simultaneously, the bill and two waters.

I hope that it goes without saying that the bill was filled with errors.

The Man I’m Married To

Westside Pavillion, site of the Massacre of the Betrayers.

Upon waking this morning, this happened:

Evan: I had a dream last night.

Me: What was it about?

Evan: We were in a zombie apocalypse and we’d managed to escape with a bunch of our friends and acquaintances, plus we’d managed to get some of our cats out. We were holed up at the Westside Pavillion, and a faction within our group betrayed us.

Me: How did they betray us?

Evan: They ate our cats for dinner.

Me: Oh no!

Evan: I took this as a personal affront.

Me: Did you kill them all?

Evan: No, because I realized, even though I had an AK-47, they were all armed with guns, too, and there was no way I could kill all of them quickly enough. So instead, I took you and a couple of people loyal to us and we left.

Me: Who was loyal to us?

Evan: I don’t remember. Anyway, so you and I and the couple of people loyal to us leave the Westside Pavillion, but as we’re leaving the building, I prop open the doors and pull the fire alarm.

Me: Wow.

Evan: {Evil Cackling}

Me: So you killed them all by zombie horde.

Evan: {Evil Cackling}

Me: I would have been okay with that, because of the cats. By the way, you can’t say you don’t love those cats, given you’re willing to kill all your friends because they ate them.

Evan: I didn’t care so much about the cats. It was the personal affront of the betrayal.

Me: I see.

Evan: We did think there was a chance one of the cats might have escaped both becoming dinner and the zombie horde, and we were going to sweep the building later to see if we could find any cat survivors.

Me: That’s nice.

Evan: Darren was the ringleader of the betrayers.

Me: Figures.