The Horses Tell the Story of the Kentucky Derby

Illustration by Luci Gutierrez courtesy of the New Yorker


This Saturday is the last leg of the Triple Crown – the Belmont Stakes. Both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness were very strange this year. (I still haven’t seen who won the Preakness because I always get fixated on watching Bodexpress tear around the track without his jockey.)

To make sense of what happens on the track, here’s an excerpt from New Yorker interview where the horses describe the Kentucky Derby.

Maximum Security: At first, I wasn’t sure where we were going. I remember being in a small, like, shed, with gates. But the gates were locked. I remember a very loud bell and the gates opened really fast and everyone was running. So I ran. I assumed it was a fire alarm. Also, there was a small man clinging to my back. I don’t know why.

Country House: When the bell rang, I wet myself. It was so loud. The gates flew open and I screamed. Everyone was running like mad. On my back was a tiny man dressed like a bumblebee. He had a stick and he was hitting my ass. Which was weird.

War of Will: There was a party. It was crowded. It was very hard to meet anyone, since we were all in little rooms and then we were running, like, crazy fast. I don’t know why we were running or whose idea it was to run, especially so fast. I also didn’t know where we were going. Also, my name is Greg, not War of Will. I don’t know what that even means or why people call me that.

Code of Honor: At first, it seemed like we were running somewhere. It was straight for a while, and then we turned. And I kind of expected there to be something there. Like a barn. Or a pond. Or a Roy Rogers. But it just kind of kept going exactly the same. And then there was another turn. Same thing. At first, I thought it was kind of funny. By the second turn, though, I was, like, This is ridiculous. I kept thinking of that Steve Winwood song “Can’t Find My Way Home.” The live version, with Clapton, at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, 2007.

Gray Magician: I had no idea what was going on. I just remember a lot of women in ridiculous hats.

Country House: There was a horse that was in front. He looked really familiar. I think his name is Duane. But I wasn’t sure. They were calling him Maximum Security. I guess he works in security. But I was trying to catch him, because I think he knows my friend Bob. I’m, like, “Hey! Hey! Do you know Bob?” But he didn’t slow down. He seemed super eager to be in the lead. To this day, I don’t know if he knows my friend Bob. His loss, because Bob is hilarious.

Gray Magician: I was looking around trying to figure out where we were going. I assumed it was a surprise party. I don’t know why I thought that. Maybe because of the hats.

Long Range Toddy: The irony for me is that I don’t love running. I think walking at a brisk pace can give you the same kind of cardio with much less stress on your body.

Read the full interview here.

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