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Derby 101 – Your 2016 Kentucky Derby Glossary


You, me, and the six or seven other readers of the blog all know the so-called “Derby lingo”. We’ve heard many Derby-centric words, phrases and themes since we were knee high to grasshoppers. We live horse racing, we know horse racing and we are horse racing.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, where people watch those little people shows on TLC, make preserves and find soccer interesting, they know very little.

It’s always been a main goal of the blog to promote the sport with newbies. So, once again this year we will examine Derby Lingo as a customer service, and we submit the following glossary. Enjoy!

“Mint Juleps” (alt, julip), noun – A mint julep is a drink people order at the Kentucky Derby. They're not consumed anywhere else, because, frankly, they don’t taste very good. In effect, they are horse racing’s version of egg nog.

 “The Trainer Interview” – You will read, hear and watch a lot of trainer interviews. These are simply questions asked by someone that the trainer has no intention of answering. He or she might say things like “good”, “we’re happy”, “can’t wait”, and “ all is well” a lot. Sometimes, while the interview is going on, their assistant trainer will be on their way to the race office to scratch their horse because it has a fever.

 “Superfecta” – This is a bet that’s offered all year for ten cents, but it costs a dollar on Derby day and no one can tell you why.

“Bo Rail” – This is a term for ex-jock Calvin Borel because he used to hug the rail and win races. When it works the jock gets a nickname, when it doesn’t, trainers will yell at them, then replace them with someone else.

“Wise Guy Horse” – This term has been long used in the sport. Its origin was in 1902 when a man named Jimmy Wiseguy from Brooklyn heard another guy talk about how a Derby horse was training at a New York track. Jimmy hopped onto a train, like they did in the Hustler, and headed to the Derby where he told everyone he saw this horse was going to win. It did, and from then on, any secret information horse is considered a “Wiseguy” horse. In 2016, there is no such thing as a wise guy horse, because everyone has an iPhone.

“Thurby” – Thurby is Thursday before the Derby, where Churchill Downs Inc. sends subliminal messages through radio and television, brainwashing locals to come to the track. It’s a fake kind of thing to ensure this quarter’s earnings will perform. This allows them to spend money on lavish parties, stock options, and advanced brainwashing technology.

“Pletchered”, verb – This is when you see the top trainer with nearly half the field, thinking one of them has to win, betting them, and not cashing a ticket.

“Cancelled Derby Parties” – This one is new for 2016. There was a sorority who cancelled their Derby party because they don’t like the Civil War, southern hats, Travis Stone, or something Kentucky. You probably didn’t hear about it because even Salon.com found it too silly to pick up, and the story quickly died.

"The Infield" - This is an awful, awful place. It's like Spring Break with kids dressed nicer. 

“Derby Glasses” – These are special glasses that commemorate an American tradition that are made in Turkey.

“The Juice” – This can be one of three things: The takeout, which was raised by Churchill Downs a couple of years ago, a drink sold at concessions at Churchill Downs, for like $10 or something, or something a guy beside you blames when his horse loses.

 “Stayer” – This is a horse who will be good at a distance of ground, because he or she is bred for it. At the present time there are only two known stayers in the United States of America, and they are both transplants from Peru.

 “Get the Distance” – This is related to a “stayer”. A horse who is good at ten furlongs will “get the distance.” Currently the Derby horses all look like they’ll “get the distance”, but it appears Kegasus could give them a run for the last two furlongs.

 “The Mansion” – This is a place on the Churchill Downs grounds where you can’t go.

“The Finish Line” – This is a place on the Churchill Downs grounds where the turf press can’t go.

 “Twin Spires” – These are the two spiry things on top of the grandstand. Rumor has it that Churchill executives offices are under those spires, where for generations they’ve plotted all kinds of ways to crush the little people. This is only a rumor.

“He cleaned up the feed tub” – According to every trainer, every horse in every race cleans up the feed tub. This is really much ado about nothing.

“He couldn’t blow out a match”- This is a term used by trainers when they want to say how amazing their horse worked out. It’s kind of like the feed tub thing.

“Repoling” – This is when you want to absolutely hammer a horse in the win pools. This stems from a few years ago when Uncle Mo owner Mike Repole said “if Uncle Mo is not the favorite, I’ll make him the favorite.” Unfortunately, Uncle Mo – who earlier that week couldn’t blow out a match and cleaned up his feed tub – was scratched.

“Dabbing” – This is a dance that trainer Steve Asmussen does while he puts product in his strange new hair.

"$4050.00" - What a $3875.00 pick 4 paid before Churchill Downs Inc. raised the takeout.  

“Lock” – This is a cinch bet that can’t lose in the Derby. A couple of my recent locks were Dullahan and Alpha.

“Amossing” – This is a post-race discussion between a jockey and a trainer that gets heated. If you're a newbie and see such an occurrence in the paddock on Saturday, say "hey, look at that guy in the suit amossing the small guy".  Everyone will think you're a railbird.

“Churchilling the ML” – This is adding 34% juice to a morning line, so every horse looks like a bargain. This helps Churchill’s stock price.

“Ashering” – This is something the Churchill Downs Inc. communications department has to do several times Derby week, covering for something bad an executive did.

“Minutes to Post” – These aren’t minutes, they’re just sort of a 12 Monkey’s, Doctor Who type time suggestion.

“Post Drag” – This is related to minutes to post. The longer the post drag, the higher the executive's bonus.

“Confetti” – What most of my tickets are every Derby Day.

Have a nice weekend everyone and good luck at the windows.

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