The Super Bowl is the biggest collectively watched sporting event in the country -- it's that rare game that you almost feel silly watching at home by yourself -- but for my money, there's no sports party better than a Kentucky Derby party.
It's really all about the timing. School is just about to let out. The weather is sunny but not hot. People are crawling out of their winter holes and engaging with the world again. Perhaps more than anything, everyone wants to drink. The Kentucky Derby doesn't start until late afternoon, which means you've got a full day of mint juleps -- an impressively potent concoction -- if you can pace yourself, before anyone even remembers there's a race going on. By then, you've got a good 20 minutes before it begins, 20 minutes to scramble together a Derby pool while making fun of Bob Costas' attempts to pretend he actually cares about all this silliness and the poor lady who always has to do sideline interviews while riding a horse.
Then you just scream for two minutes.
For an event so tied to gambling that top ESPN writers on the sport actually advertise their betting seminar at a Vegas casino inside their actual news stories, the Kentucky Derby is endlessly charming. But for my money, the best part is the horse names.
I swear, if these horses were sentient beings capable of understanding basic human communication, when they realized what we were naming them, they would never stop kicking us. Considering most of the people I know lay their wagers on the name they find the most amusing, it's perhaps not a surprise that someone once named their Derby horse "Shut Up," but someone did. (Shut Up finished fourth in 1944.) Other favorites throughout the years:
- Odor In Court
- Nobiz Like Shobiz
- Barely Legal (There were actually two different horses named this.)
We should probably just feel fortunate that, in 1996, the horse named "Lewinsky" just missed making the Derby. That saved considerable awkward party conversations.
At nine days, we're far enough away from the Derby that no one knows the horse's names yet but close enough that it's not ridiculous to talk about. Obviously, there's still plenty of qualifying left, and some of these horses will make it and some won't. But for now, allow me to introduce you to the potential horse names of the 2014 Kentucky Derby. You'll be amazed how the betting will track with the quality of these names.
There are 24 names. Here they are, ranked in ascending order of name quality.
24. Dance With Fate: So much wrong with this one. First off, it's a race: We get it, luck is involved. Also, horses don't dance, at least not race horses. Mostly, it's just boring. It sounds like the title of an extremely dull indie romantic comedy from the '90s, starring, like, Eric Stoltz and Parker Posey.
23. Ring Weekend
22. Candy Boy: This is a humiliating thing to name a living thing.
21. Harry's Holiday
20. Wildcat Red: Considering its overuse in collegiate athletics, no one should ever be allowed to use the word "wildcat" in a horse names. Also: It's a horse. Leave the cats out of it.
19. Intense Holiday: Harry and Intense would make an awesome brother horse cop buddy duo. "The Holidays."
18. Medal Count
17. California Chrome
16. Commanding Curve
15. Ride On Curlin: All told, putting the word "ride" in the name of your horse is a bit on the nose, don't you think?
14. Wicked Strong: Depending on your area of the country, this might be the most popular horse at your Derby party. (If it is, it's extremely likely your Derby party is going to end with some sort of fistfight.)
11. Pablo Del Monte
9. Vicar's in Trouble
8. We Miss Artie: This would be higher on the list, but the "Artie" who's missed is not a person named Artie but, in fact, the horse's father, Artie Schiller. (His father is a horse, not a person.) One of my favorite things about horse racing is that you can find whole web pages devoted to the number of mares a horse has had sex with. This leads us one step closer to the horse Tinder app I assume is an inevitability.
6. Bayern: By Derby Day, we'll know how Bayern Munich's Champions League semifinal turned out.
5. Social Inclusion: This horse seems destined to finish just out of the money.
4. Uncle Sigh: This is most Internet-meme-y name in the field, methinks.
3. Tapiture: Tapiture … it's the manly Pinterest!
2. General a Rod: This horse is not named after the embattled Yankees third baseman, but if it wins, people will never, ever stop asking.
1. Danza: If you can't cheer for a horse named Danza, we probably can't be friends.
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