Writers have little beyond their imaginations to compare a 20-horse race with.
The only thing I’ve done that could rival participating in a 20-horse, mile-and-a-quarter race on the dirt, is playing tennis drunk, which almost cost me an eye. I struck out five times in a college baseball game when an Iowa State pitcher seemed to be throwing spitters. But it was an easy thing to do.
Here are some guesses at what a 20-horse race on the dirt is like.
- Playing 11 on 15 at football
- Shooting at a moving basket
- Playing baseball without steroids
- Noodling in the Nile
- Boxing a convict serving life
- Writing off your living room as a home office
Just how difficult a proposition is the Kentucky Derby featuring 20 horses?
It is the only sporting event that cannot be practiced, cannot be simulated according to the specifications of the real event. About the only other time you see 20 horses together on the dirt, somebody will yell, “Action!” and then, hopefully, “Cut!” Derby prep races involve six, seven, perhaps ten. Twenty is a lot of armadillos. Racing 20 three-year old horses at once would be like letting 16-year olds run at Daytona.
Why run 20 in the Derby?
Because they’ll fit across the track, it’s the only reason that comes to mind.
The start is like a quarter horse race, it’s like a wind tunnel with horses tilting all over the place. The ideal 20-horse race would feature the herd of them running single file to the top of the stretch. But some of them have to go, some are knocked off their plan, some choose to stay well back, all of the connections pray.
The best thing about a 20-horse Kentucky Derby field is of course the dime Superfecta. Often considered to be a kin to the quinella, or, a railbird’s bet, the dime Superfecta takes assumes a different perspective with 20 of them out there banging around, searching for the first turn. This wager is well-suited for the craziest things you can think of from your past, addresses, lucky numbers, unlucky numbers, anything but honest thoroughbred horse racing form.
The dime Super is tailor-made for theme boxes, the Bad Race Box, for example, where you throw out the worst race of each horse and handicap from there. Or, you can throw out one particular race that makes no sense whatsoever, the Florida Derby, for example, where all but two of them seemed lost. There’s also the Ailment Box where you play horses that have recently undergone medical treatment. Frequently worth playing are the self-explanatory collections like the Closer’s Box, the Improving Horse Box, using Beyer numbers on the up-tick, even the Silly Dime Super Box, where somebody living at 1509 W. 48th could win some money.
Some picks will be listed here Wednesday after the post position draw (and a weather forecast), some after-race material will follow Saturday.
Safety is the number one hope in a big crowd.
Just imagine what 20 young horses will be thinking as they mill about behind the gate Saturday afternoon.
Where’s the fox?
Originally Posted on ESPN