By Jay Sedmak
SNPJ Publications Editor/Manager
|Jockey Mario Gutierrez riding I’ll Have Another to victory in the 138th Kentucky Derby. (AP Photo)
I missed the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby this past Saturday, which is probably the first Kentucky Derby I’ve missed in quite a few years now. I had to rely on ESPN replays of the race to find out which horse actually won this year’s race, and I could only smile when I discovered the horse’s name was “I’ll Have Another.”
What a great name for a racehorse, “I’ll Have Another.” If I were a betting man, chances are (pun intended, there) I’d wager on anything named “I’ll Have Another.” But much like my SNPJ Publications Department cohort Kimberly Gonzalez, I’m no betting man [I’ll refer to Kim’s March 23 blog post on this point]. Even so, I still have to chuckle at the winning horse’s name, particularly in the context of recent goings-on. I’ll beg your indulgence as I explain...
Just a few weeks ago, on April 19, the rock music world was saddened by news of the loss of longtime musician Mark Lavon Helm, better known as “Levon” Helm in music circles. Levon Helm was the drummer (and often the vocalist, and sometimes even a guitarist) for The Band, a group originally formed as Bob Dylan’s touring band (back in the mid-1960s, when the group was still known as The Hawks) that rose to prominence with a string of hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Among their numerous tracks, The Band recorded the now-classic “Up On Cripple Creek,” a catchy little ditty that describes, at least in part, a miner’s trip to the Deep South to visit a girlfriend. At one point in the song, lyricist Robbie Robertson refers to a day at the races:
Good luck had just stung me
To the race track I did go;
She bet on one horse to win
And I bet on another to show.
The odds were in my favor,
I had ‘em five to one.
When that nag to win came around the track,
Sure enough we had won.
The verse is followed immediately by the refrain:
Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me,
If I spring a leak, she mends me.
I don’t have to speak, as she defends me,
A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one.
You see where I’m headed with this, right? This year’s Kentucky Derby winner, “I’ll Have Another,” is undoubtedly “a drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one.” And it’s truly a fitting irony that the Kentucky Derby should work this readily into the lore of The Band, especially given Levon Helm’s recent passing from this life. Am I reading too much into this, or has a song that was written over 40 years ago just played out in real life on the biggest stage in professional horseracing? A coincidence, you say? Well, maybe... but then again, since I’m composing this piece “the odds [are] in my favor.”
Until next year’s Derby Day rolls around, I think “I’ll Have Another” while listening to The Band and reveling in my “drunkard’s dream.” And by then perhaps a colt named “Levon Time” or “At the Helm” will make a Run for the Roses and quiet all you naysayers. Just remember my prediction when “she [bets] on one horse to win and [you] bet on another to show.”