LOUISVILLE, KY – The sweat on my julep was nearly as thick as they sweat on my brow. This day of racing made absolutely no sense. Short, odd horses weren’t getting out of the gates. Intermittent rain had track conditions fluttering between firm and slippery. Even a gray horse won a race. My grandmother bet the gray horse every Kentucky Derby for years and never won a dime. It was the ponies that were handicapping me and not the other way around. Going into the final post of a thin Sunday slate I had traded a couple exacta wins for numerous near miss losses. I was getting desperate. The experience of Churchill Downs in and of itself was worth the contribution to the jockeys’ salaries but I desperately wanted to walk away a winner. To the booth I went to lay a box super long-shot that would either pay for a bundle of hay or it would kick off a Sunday I would never forget.
Out of the gates, once again my bet looked like a botched plastic surgery. Around the back stretch the two lead horses lost steam and the pack made gains to the point it was any horses race. At the final straight Mademoiselle Nova, Look Me Over, and Cerulean were lined up one, two, three, and my fourth superfecta horse Maybe Later was at the back of the pack. Then his jockey let him loose. Around the outside Maybe Later covered six positions and finished in second! The superfecta jinx Karma Shield placed on me oh so many years ago at Belmont was lifted! Instead of leaving the track down two C notes I left up two C notes with more pride than the Astros after they stole a World Series. Little did I know this was only the opening act to a third day in a row that would end past my bedtime.
For context I was in Louisville for a bachelor party. Day one and two of the party can best be described as drink as much bourbon as you can without dying. Day three was supposed to be a recovery day at the track before everyone goes home the following morning. Day three turned into a something far greater.
After leaving the track tipsy, hungry, and soaked from a downpour our meandering group of degenerates got cleaned up and went out into the unknown world of Louisville to find sustenance. After walking a considerable distance and being turned down a three restaurants we ended up in a taco joint for a drink. Across the bar were two beautiful African-American women. Being that this was a bachelor party it was our responsibility as mates to talk up any piece of trim above ground. After some cordial banter with the ladies we eventually came to the “What are you doing tonight?” conversation. They told us the spot to be was a club bar called Virtue and that Virtue would be playing the Mayweather vs Paul fight.
Gluttons for bad sport, we ate dinner then plotted our way to Virtue. In lieu of a cab or Uber we found some scooters and set off. Along the way to Virtue we quickly realized that we were sent to a place that no white tourist would know to venture too or likely be willing to venture too. After crossing some railroad tracks and going under an overpass six of us arrived at the bar on five scooters. I am sure we looked as ridiculous as it sounds. Upon entry of the bar we instantly got more looks than Kim Kardashian’s Instagram. We were the only white people. Not one more than us.
We proceeded to drink beer and break bread with everyone there while watching the quick heist money grab that was Mayweather v. Paul. My new friend Anthony, who is a boxer, gave the color commentary. The bar tenders acted as ring girls carrying round cards from end to end of the bar. The DJ kept spinning the whole time so we didn’t have to hear whatever nonsense the play by play team was giving. This was the best way to watch a fight short of being ringside at Caesars. Outside of the fight, the owner and I connected over his basketball days playing small school ball in Colorado. The bachelor was drowned in rounds of shots. We talked sports and life until the PPV ruse was over and the bar closed. It was the perfect cap to an incredible weekend.
For as divided as our country is collectively, individually we have the power to connect with one another. In our daily lives, our routines, jobs, and interests often dictate our choice in friends, activities, and watering holes. Collectively, we are victims of these routines as they often hinder us from the opportunities that we didn’t know existed. Individually we can buck these routines and be made better for it. Two of the greatest unifiers on the planet are sport and drink. This weekend get out and go to a different bar. Meet new people. That is how we all become closer together regardless of what makes us different.
I can’t thank the people at Virtue enough for their hospitality. Next time I am in Louisville you can bet I’ll be there.
Feel free to comment below and come back tomorrow for Short Matt, who is likely cursing me for having to edit over 800 words.