Happy weekend my friends! Hope you are winding down from a productive week and are ready for my tale of adventure! After all the international travelling I’ve been doing lately, taking a long drive to another state didn’t seem quite so taxing! My friends and I headed to Louisville, Kentucky for one of the premiere events in sport, the Kentucky Derby. When Malcolm heard I was heading to Kentucky he became all excited – well, as excited as Malcolm gets – and begged me to take him with me. I was puzzled. Since when did Malcolm become such a big horse racing fan?
Some of my international friends made the trip to NC, and we were going to have a party car to Kentucky. My brother, Tristan, had to make sure he was off from work to be our driver, and somehow he managed it! We made plans to meet up with our friend, Felisha, who lives in Kentucky and we would all head to the Derby together.
My brother has GPS on his phone, so none of us had to be the navigator. That allowed us to pursue more interesting activities, like making faces at the people in the cars next to us, eating, batting a catnip mouse back and forth, eating, taking naps and eating. As we neared Kentucky, Malcolm became all fidgety and was quick to corner Tristan outside the car when we stopped to buy more snacks…oh, and get gas.
We all cheered when we saw the first sign for Louisville. Suddenly, the GPS told Tristan to turn. I thought we were supposed to stay on the road we were on for a while longer. Evidently, Tristan had changed the destination address and we were taking a detour. We all looked at each other and wondered what was going on?!??!?
It soon became clear when we pulled up to the Kentucky Fried Chicken’s headquarters building. Malcolm was halfway out of the car before Tristan had a chance to stop it completely. He scurried up to the sign and insisted I take a picture of him in front of, what was for him, paradise.
We all went inside the beautiful southern manor looking building. Malcolm was convinced he would be able to get the secret recipe – he had heard it was kept in a vault somewhere on the premises. He scampered from room to room, but was soon distracted by an exhibit room that had a giant bucket in the center of it. He started trying to climb into it, but it wasn’t easy. I called to him that we wanted to get to Churchill Downs before the race started so we would come pick him up on the way back home. He grumbled and nodded in agreement as he stepped on Colonel Sanders’ head in an effort to launch himself into the bucket.
The rest of us we’re off to the races. It wasn’t too much longer until we pulled into the Churchill Downs’ parking lot. We made sure our Derby hats were positioned just so on our heads, and trotted in to join the rest of our hatted Derby enthusiasts!
This race was different than the Stoney Brook Steeplechase I had attended in April. There were these huge stands with restaurants and bars all over the place. There was a curious area called the wagering windows, but there were no windows at all. It was all closed in – I wasn’t able to see outside even a little bit. I tugged on a fellow race patron’s sleeve and asked what we were supposed to do at these wagering windows. He explained that we would give the person behind the counter some money, and they would give us a ticket with our horse’s number on it. If the horse won we could bring the ticket back and they would give us more money than what we had given them. Good deal!!
If we were going to be risking my Mom’s money, we would have to make sure to pick a winner every time. We found something called “The Daily Racing Form” lying on the ground. We started to go through it and found it to be quite helpful.
We studied the bloodlines and where the horses were bred and trained. We noted the trainers and jockeys names. After absorbing all this information, we unanimously agreed that Derby Kitten was the horse for us! C’mon – Derby Kitten – we had to bet that one! I wasn’t sure about betting on a horse sight unseen, so we headed to the stables to give Derby Kitten the once over…..
Being cats, were could wander around the stables and no one bothered us. The fact we were all wearing hats didn’t seem to tip anyone off that we weren’t supposed to be there. We had no idea where to start looking for Derby Kitten, so we figured we’d check with some of the other residents. Since we didn’t want the other horses to feel bad that we weren’t looking for them, we each grabbed a carrot and first offered them a treat while making small talk. Finally, we eased into the subject of the Derby and our quest, Derby Kitten.
Our new friends seemed miffed when we started to talk about the Derby – evidently, neither of them had been invited to race in it – so it took some coaxing to get them to point us in the right direction. They finally relented and told us where we could find the object of our interest.
Most of the Derby entrants were out of their stalls and being tended to by their trainers. They were magnificent creatures - all muscled and shiny. When we finally came upon Derby Kitten we had no time to waste – we got right to work. Tuppy, Jack and Georgie got busy covering him up with a blanket to keep him dry and warm. I opted to check his teeth. I’m really not sure why, but the judges at dog shows always look at the dogs’ teeth, so it must be important! I found myself a ladder and hopped on top to check Derby Kittens choppers.
I called down to Tuppy to see if he knew what I was supposed to be looking for. He didn’t. Derby Kitten had big pink gums and very large teeth. Looked good to me!! We counted his legs and determined that he was indeed a fine specimen of a horse. Yes, we would put Mom’s hard earned money on this beast.
Georgie had to hoist me up to the wagering window to place our bet. Derby Kitten to win! The toms in our group liked our choice, but for some reason they were more partial to Mucho Macho Man. I went ahead and bought half the tickets for Derby Kitten and half for Mucho Macho Man.
With that taken care of we had some time to relax. We sat on the rail for a while as the horses got ready for the race.
The horses were saddled and led on the track. I got all misty eyed when the song “My Old Kentucky Home” started. We all sang along and were the hit of the infield. We waved at Derby Kitten as he went by and he bobbed his head up and down toward us. He was going to win – I just knew it!
The excitement built as the horsed were loaded into the starting gate. The couple of seconds before the gates opened were unbearable!!!!! Then the bell rang, and in a flash of color the horses burst from their chutes.
My friends and I jumped up and down waving our hats - looking not too sophisticated. This was fun. Go Derby Kitten!!! We jumped and yelled the whole way around and then when they came to the top of the stretch, it was on! They all made a mad dash to the wire. It was wild. Whips swinging, heads bobbing, hoofs pounding, dirt flying – and then… it was over. As we prepared to head to the winner’s circle to congratulate our hero we realized that Derby Kitten had not won. I had not even considered that as a possibility! Mucho Macho Man didn’t even win. Some horse named Animal Kingdom won. He was a 20-1 long shot that was not supposed to win. Bummer.
As we walked past the wagering windows on the way out, we heard quite the commotion coming from one of the windows. Someone was celebrating a large cash windfall. Lucky devil. Then I caught the yowling amongst the cheering of others. It…sounded…just…like…Malcolm! I looked deep into the crowd and saw Malcolm pushing his way out with his KFC bucket just overflowing with cash. What in the world?!??!?!?! I thought he was at KFC headquarters!
We rushed up to him, trying to catch the cash that was spilling onto the floor.
I asked him what was going on?
Malcolm explained that after he jumped into the big bucket and found out there was no chicken in it, he couldn’t get out. He yowled until someone rescued him. The man who helped him out of the bucket worked there, but was getting ready to head to the track to make a sure thing bet that a friend of his had told him about. He shared his tip with Malcolm and when he offered Malcolm a ride to the track, he took it. He had bet the food allowance money I had given him (Mom’s magic plastic card does cash too!) on Animal Kingdom. Since it paid 20-1, he had quite the pile of money.
We told him to stop throwing the money around and head straight for the car. While we were very disappointed Derby Kitten didn’t win, we were happy for Malcolm. On the way home, he bought us all dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken. He even got himself a new bucket hat! We dropped Felisha back home then headed back to NC. With our bellies full, we drifted off for a nice long nap.
Hope the horse you were rooting for in the Derby did better than ours! Malcolm is quite pleased with himself and he now considers himself a horse racing guru. Whatever.
Have a great week!
Love and kitty kisses,