No, I did not pick the horse that went off at 50-1 odds and won the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby. I didn't even come close to picking him. Usually I take a handful of horses, since there are twenty of them running in the Derby, and put a little money on each of them, reserving the most money of course for my official pick. But this year the line to make a bet was so long--about a 45-minute wait, and this was several hours before the Derby was to be run--that I decided to make whatever bets I was going to make and not get back in line again. And since I didn't already figure what horses I wanted to make bets on besides my pick, Afleet Alex, I just put down $20 to win, place, and show on my pick, and said fuck all the other horses. One thing I knew I wasn't going to do was put any money on the favorite, Bellamy Road. I just felt that Bellamy was a fluke horse, and sure enough, he finished seventh.
But the horse that won, Giacomo, was a total shock. When I look at the program right now, sitting here at home four days after the race, the only thing I see about Giacomo that would have led me to think that he had any kind of chance is that he was a good closer in his previous races. Not to say that he was winning those races--he only won once in seven lifetime races--but he did show a knack for making up ground late in those races. These were races where other Derby horses were winning, so of course one would overlook Giacomo because he wasn't winning, but make no mistake, Giacomo made up ground late in those races to take second place a couple of times and third place a couple of times. And boy did he make up ground in the Derby. For those that didn't see the race or highlights, Giacomo was in 11th place at the top of the stretch, which is about a quarter mile from the finish line. He just picked off horses one by one and finally stuck his neck in front at the end, beating a 72-1 shot, Closing Argument, and my pick Afleet Alex. Afleet Alex, by the way, led with about 1/8th of a mile left, but he just didn't have enough left to hold on. Killed me too, cause I thought I was going to pick the Derby winner for the second year in a row. But I still had fun. Got to see some boobies from the drunk coeds that start flashing in the infield about midday at every Derby, and even got a couple of pics. I don't think I'm going back without some beads, though. Most of the women flashing want beads in return, like they're at Mardi Gras, and when you have nothing to offer like me, you just feel pathetic. There was one girl flashing everyone who gave her beads and she just didn't care, and she looked right at me with my camera in hand and waited for me to give her some beads. All I could do is look at her and lie and say, "I'm all out baby, but if I had some I'd give them all to you!" She just giggled and went on to the next guy. I won't let that happen next year.
I have to thank my friend Cassandra for going with me, even though she doesn't read my blog. She knew I had an empty hotel room and I would be miserable if I had to make this trip all by myself, so she went with me, and I enjoyed her company. We ran into the usual glitches here and there involved in travel, stupid drivers, crazy people at the car rental place trying to sell us everything under the sun while neglecting what we actually paid for, a crappy hotel room (Howard Johnson Express/Airport
...extremely NOT recommended), and we even almost got into a fistfight. What happened was we saw a flyer in the hotel lobby advertising a family team of three that would shuttle anyone to the Derby or anywhere else in the area for an optional donation, and going to the Derby using that service was fine, because we left a little later than most other people. The races for the day at Churchill Downs started about 11A Eastern, so a lot of people went then, but we didn't go until close to 1P. But going back after the Derby, we called the lady who drove us that morning, and she said that one of the other two cars driven by her family would get us at the same corner that she dropped us at. The traffic was of course unreal, and as a result it was a half-hour before that same lady finally showed up. Since she was actually talking to Cassandra on her cell phone when she pulled up, we assumed that she was there for us, but others were also waiting for her at the same corner, including some drunk white guys in their 30s, and when we got to the door of the van first, one of the guys grabbed Cassandra and said "Oh no you don't! We've been waiting forever!" Cassandra snatched her arm away and correctly explained that we called for this van, but apparently so did this group, and several others as well. The same guy then opened the passenger door as if he were about to climb in anyway, but made the smart decision to back away when he saw me approaching. That was actually very funny, how belligerent and mad he was at first but then how calm he was when he saw a huge black man walking towards him, and I'm sure I didn't look very jolly, because I had just been standing for a half-hour after walking around the Derby for several hours. Cassandra and I agreed to let a few others in the van with us, and we would all eventually be dropped at our destinations. Drunk Guy was not among those we let into the van. The poor girl driving was so shaken, she called one of the other drivers and said that she wasn't answering the phone anymore the rest of the night. So next year it's either drive to the Derby and pay for parking, or find a different shuttle service, a plain old taxi perhaps.
I learned something about myself as well. I knew that I had the self-control to be in a room with a woman and not try to get busy with her, because I had to go through that with a woman I dated years ago who slept with me several times but never had sex with me. But at that time I had only been with one woman in my whole life, my high school girlfriend, so patience was something I had a lot of back then. I didn't know how much patience I would have now that I was used to knocking boots in hotels. But everything worked out okay. We even slept in the same bed, but because it was a king, we never touched each other the whole weekend. I didn't make any moves because if I was rejected the whole trip would have been ruined. Cassandra needed a little break, and we've always gotten along great, and I asked her, so she decided to go. And that was that. Sex was not part of the equation, and that was not only fine with me, but a little bit of a relief that our friendship was not going to be tested by introducing intimacy into it. Hell, maybe I won't try to have sex with anyone anytime soon. Maybe I'll throw myself into my schoolwork this summer, get a job, and figure out the next direction I want to go in my life before I worry about pussy again. At least that would be the mature thing to do.
It was just me and Cassandra all weekend, because "Ronnie" decided once I got a roommate and wouldn't be having him and his girlfriend in my room that he didn't have the money to make the trip. He actually uttered the statement that he needed to save money to get ready to go to school, and I almost laughed in his face because he hasn't ever in my presence mentioned going to school to get an actual degree. He has this certificate from a broadcasting school, and he thought that would be good enough to get him a sports broadcasting job even though his voice is so high he sounds like a girl. Needless to say he hasn't had much luck. So now that I'm in a real school he all of a sudden has to save money to go. Pathetic. He won't admit it, but hell, he got the idea of broadcasting from me. I used to play him my demo tapes from a radio class that I was in during a summer project at Columbia College, and he never once mentioned anything about being interested in broadcasting. Then we stopped talking for about a year and a half between the spring of 2001 and the winter of 2002, and all of a sudden, he had a certificate from the Illinois School of Broadcasting in Lombard, IL. And yes, I have heard him tell people that he has a broadcasting "degree," although he wouldn't admit to that either. I stopped talking to him just because of this childish rivalry that we have, and honestly I don't know why I talk to him to this day. We're so competitive that the reason we got back together in 2002 after so long was to go bowling, and trust me, he and I don't go bowling to have fun, we go to beat each other. But he can't beat me. He doesn't have the skill, and if he did, we'd bowl together a lot because then he could show off, but we haven't bowled in over a year. So if you ever thought men couldn't be as catty and vindictive as women, ask Cassandra. She saw me and Ronnie go back and forth on the phone all day Friday while we were on our way to Louisville. He chided me about leaving town so late, although we tried to leave earlier but circumstances wouldn't let us, he chided me about making a Derby pick before I looked at a program, he called once just to ask if it was raining on us yet because there were some sprinkles in the air, and he kept calling me to laugh at how far away we were from Louisville as it got darker. If my phone battery had not run out of juice Saturday, I would've had to hear him tell me how he knew that 50-1 shot had a good chance to win. How do I know he would have said that? Because he did say that Monday when he finally got a hold of me. What a guy, huh?
So anyway, at least the long-awaited Derby trip is done and now I can calm down, finish off the last few weeks of this school semester, get the 13 credits I will earn once the grades are final, and move on from there. I still don't know what I'm going to do this summer, as far as will I stay in this apartment or move with my family or strike out on my own in a new area, but I'm going to stay calm and make all my decisions with a new peace of mind. There was something very peaceful about spending a weekend with a woman that I wasn't trying to impress or get into her pants. I even managed to forget about hearing the very sad news before I left that "Sarah" apparently tried to commit suicide and was given shock treatment as a result, leaving her with a very foggy memory. "She probably wouldn't even remember you at all," Ronnie told me. He'd like that, since I was with Sarah last year and he was with her daughter. It would be just another way for him to say, "I made the right pick, and you didn't. You lost." But I don't care. I still had a great time with Sarah and I'd still make the same choice. We can't always do everything perfectly. We just have to do what feels right to us at the time.