Pickin’ the Ponies

APTOPIX Kentucky Derby Horse Racing

Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel were a happy horse and rider on Saturday.

Oh, man, I had a feeling about that Pioneerof the Nile at the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. I put my money where my intuition was and laid down $5 on the Santa Anita Derby winner.

We weren’t exactly in the infield at Churchill Downs, but it was the Shasta District Satellite Wagering Facility in Anderson.

I’m not exactly a horse racing person. But I had a friend in from out of town who was. And another pal, Jon, was up for the experience. (He been out to the derby for the Churchill infield experience: "This is serious partying," he explained. "Like, dangerous serious partying. You know, it’s the south. Kentucky."

So what’s better for three adult men and one small child to do on a rainy Saturday that hit the Shasta District Satellite Wagering Facility? "Son, don’t move away from this fence. Daddy’s gonna go bet on some horses."


The party was rockin’ at the Shasta District Satellite Wagering Facility.

Actually, kids are not allowed in the wagering facility. But they let us squeak into the back smoker’s patio area. So we had that going for us.

Anyway, back to Pioneerof the Nile (not a typo, that’s actually how it’s spelled). Colt ran a hell of a race. Amazing, actually. Only one problem: Something called Mine That Bird sailed out of 50-1 odds to scorch the field. My ticket to win was a death on the Nile. My horse was second, a nose ahead of Musket Man.

Mine That Bird jockey Calvin Borel did that classic sideways point at the finish. Apparently riding an amazing dark horse to a Kentucky Derby win will fire up a jockey.

Here’s what horse racing "expert" writer Jay Privman said about Mine The Bird going in: "As good as the top few are in this race, some of the bottom feeders, like this guy are really weak." And from racing writer Mike Watchmaker: "Well, there is a good chance he’ll make someone happy as he’s favorite in the finish last pool."

Well, Mike, actually, at the finish, 18 other horses and jockeys had a nice view of Mine That Bird’s ass.

Back at the Shasta District Satellite Wagering Facility, a couple of people were screaming. Oh, my gosh, you mean somebody actually bet on that horse? A $2 bet paid $103.

So, the Kentucky Derby’s a big race. But in most wagering facilities, you can keep on betting well into the night on races that are shown at tracks all over the world. In some places you can start betting on Japanese horses that run the track in the wrong direction.

Note to self: If I’m ever betting on foreign horses that run clockwise at a regional wagering facility, I’ve officially hit rock bottom. I should be turned into glue at that point.

Oh, man, the frustrating thing is I actually picked a winner earlier in the day. It was the seventh race at Golden Gate Fields.

I looked at the betting sheet and Cable Dancer just jumped out at me. Rob and Jon trusted me. "Sure, go get down on it. And put a 3-4 quinella for me for $4."

So I go. But, damn! a line. What’s that on the TV? Oh, no, they’re off in the seventh at Golden Gate.

Oh, well. Back to the smoker’s patio. Watch the race anyway.

"Cable Dancer! Cable Dancer down the stretch. It’s Cable Dancer. London Express. Surf Academy."

There you go. That’s my luck with horse racing. And betting.

What are ya gonna do?

Jim Dyar

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com

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