LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07: Fans play on a slip and slide as they party in the infield during the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The Kentucky Derby is an American tradition. Learn everything you need to know right here in our totally serious and in no way satirical viewer's guide.
Saturday will mark the annual running of the Kentucky Derby, or as it is better known, "The Showdown in Motown." The race takes place every year in Louisville, "The Biggest Little City on Earth." The world's preeminent horse-race has been going strong for over 100 years -- nearly half as old as our country!
You may be thinking about skipping out on Saturday's race. "Hey now," you might very well be saying, "I don't know Seabiscuit from an actual biscuit." Well, look no further, friends! We've got you covered with all of the vital facts, tidbits and info you'll ever need or want to know about the Kentucky Derby! (And for the record, horses are significantly less flaky, fluffy and delicious than a biscuit. Not that I've eaten a horse. That you can prove.)
The Kentucky Derby pits any number of horses (usually between three and 25) against one another in a winner-take-all race over 10 Furlongs (named after Edward Furlong, the adorable and precocious scamp who in 1991 taught the world that a boy could love a murderous robot). The winner of the race receives a lifetime supply of oats and sugar cubes and has a chance at the Triple Crown, which is the highest honor in horse racing or in Japanese professional wrestling.
The race itself is pretty straightforward: whoever crosses the finish line first wins. In all honesty, the Derby was a lot more exciting when the jockey were allowed to carry revolvers and to affix three-foot-long blades to the horses' fetlocks.
One caveat: centaurs are expressly forbidden from entering the race, although a faun or satyr may enter, but only as a jockey. A centaur may not attempt to ride another centaur in the race, because that is unnatural and borderline-pornographic.
The horses generally have amusing names, which is in part due to distinguishing their pedigree and also due to the fact that you can name an animal whatever you want, with no legal ramifications. Also, most of the time, people will be referring to the horse as "horsie" or "boy" or "fella" or "kitty" or whatever, so the names are really only used for betting purposes and as fodder for the inevitable Frank Caliendo skit during the pre-show.
Many people like to "place bets" on the Kentucky Derby, claiming it makes the race "enjoyable." A strange fact about our economy is that right around the Derby each year, many fathers find themselves in need of a new pair of shoes.
In addition to the numerous bets you can place on how the horses will finish the race, there are also endless amounts of "prop bets" you can make, including:
- whether a horse will throw a shoe
- whether a horse will throw a plate
- whether a horse will throw a plate at Andy Capp after a drunken night out on the town
- whether a jockey will accidentally get on his horse backwards (this is a "sucker bet;" those tiny guys are professionals)
- how many horses can fit inside a Buick Skylark
Since the Kentucky Derby is named after a giant hat, people like to wear big, stupid hats to the Kentucky Derby. It's kind of like the Royal Wedding, except with more people saying "y'all" and being visibly drunk.
Speaking of drunkenness, the "infield" of the Kentucky Derby is the "hot-spot" for all manner of drunken revelry. People piled into the grass standing-room-only area and pound mint juleps until they remember they've brought a bunch of tall boys in a cooler, so they pound those, too. The infield is also a land of romance. Every December, nine months to the day after the Kentucky Derby is run, there is a huge spike in babies being born in Louisville. Ooh-la-la!
The Derby also allows us to take a moment and be thankful that the horseless carriage was invented. Sure, the horses fly at breakneck pace and provide a thrilling couple of minutes, but you know what's even more thrilling? Going 200 miles an hour for 400 miles, every damn Sunday. Also, when the horses crash, they don't flip end over end for 1,000 yards and then burst into flame. Not usually, anyway. If John Ford was here, he'd just say "you're welcome."
So now you know everything there is to know about the Kentucky Derby! Pick yourself a winner and tune in (not necessarily in that order). You won't be sorry.
For actual news about the Kentucky Derby, instead of just jokes, please visit our dedicated StoryStream. You can also visit SB Nation's Kentucky Derby StoryStream or learn a lot by visiting And Down the Stretch They Come.