Every so often I get sucked into the manufactured hoopla of the day – and yesterday was one of those days. It was Derby Day for the 141st time. I used to enjoy the races until I saw one at Belmont in New York in which one of the horses broke his leg during the course of the race and was destroyed. That soured me on the Sport of Kings. But from time to time I have watched a leg of the Triple Crown and with nothing more important to do, I tuned in yesterday.
I had attended one of these events in person – the 100th running. I had some friends who lived in the Cherokee Park area of Louisville who had kindly invited a friend and me to spend the weekend with them in their home. It was a festive day indeed, with the ladies wearing outrageously bright, large hats and the mint juleps being poured with abandon.
Unfortunately, perhaps it’s a Yankee thing, but bourbon and I don’t agree. I think it might be the high sugar content of the liquor – but even a small quantity makes me extremely ill. But when you’re at Derby Day it’s an unwritten rule that you are expected to go with the flow. So I accepted the julep after making an appropriate protestation and sipped at it very slowly. And in the course of many hours at Churchill Downs sipped many more. The result, of course, was predictable. To borrow a phrase from Sir Winston, “I was drunk; I was horribly drunk; I was disgustingly drunk.”
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was able to hold on to the bourbon in my stomach throughout the Derby and the other races after which we returned to my friends’ home. I teetered to the lavatory in my room and knew that I had to relieve myself of all those mint juleps. Unfortunately, I was so blotto that I couldn’t distinguish between the toilet (which had water in it) and the aquarium which also had water in it and a fair number of salt water fish. So I inadvertently lifted up the cover to the tank, thinking it was the toilet lid, and out came spilling many mint juleps. The result was that I felt a bit better but the alcohol was toxic to the fish – all of whom I killed in this process.
That was the last time that I received an invitation to attend the Derby. Actually, that was also the last time I heard from these friends. Alas.
Back in the days when Dad and I would attend the races, I remember that there were some outstanding jockeys. The names Eddie Arcaro and Willie Shoemaker come to mind. And as I watched the hour long pre-Derby show, I was struck at how things had changed. Back in the fifties and sixties, the vast majority of the jockeys were Anglos (although that is a term that wasn’t in common use at the time). At this year’s Derby, I would guess that at least three quarters of them riding in the big race were Hispanic.
And this, of course, started me thinking. Is the real reason for Obama’s non-policy on immigration and a refusal to tighten the southern border merely a ploy to get more future jockeys into the country? Is he merely distracting the public’s eye with his golf games when he really is a horse racing aficionado? While I don’t have a definitive answer to that question it is something to think about.
We are now all familiar with the term “vetting” as it applies to politics. Simply stated, it means that the prospective candidate’s background has been thoroughly reviewed (though I’ve never been clear by whom) and that there aren’t any nasty little bits of past history which would disqualify her or him from the office for which they are either running or to which they might be appointed. The term actually comes from horse racing. Veterinarians were supposed to examine horses to make sure that they had not been given any illegal substances which would enhance their performance.
This first thought naturally led me to a second thought. Thanks to our veterinarians and technology, we now have the ability to “chip” our dogs and cats so that if they get lost, there is a record of the person to whom they belong so that they can be returned. It’s a simple and virtually painless process. So that thought led me to a third thought.
How hard would it be not only to have an identification chip but to have a GPS chip implanted in our pets. Rather than wait for someone to turn Hondo or Tinkerbell in, we would be able to determine where they were and go right out and bring them home. And if it works for our pets, why not do the same for those who immigrate to the country illegally?
Statistically, we know that eighty per cent of those who come into the country through our southern border do not show up at their scheduled immigration hearing and just blend invisibly into the population at large. We could fix that problem with the use of a chip such as the one I have described. Don’t show up at your hearing and you get picked up and sent back to whence you came. “Hasta la vista, Baby.”
We have always and should continue to welcome people to the United States who want to make a better way of life for themselves and their families. And we should actively develop an immigration policy which favors people with special skills that would benefit the country and its people. But seriously, how many jockeys do we really need?