DYCHE | Exactas - Pairing Kentucky Politicians and Derby Horses
By John David Dyche WDRB Contributor
It’s Derby week in Kentucky! Here is a tip sheet pairing some of the state’s top politicians with some of this year’s Derby horses.
Mitch McConnell = California Chrome. Both are betting favorites based on strings of impressive victories that made their opponents look bad. McConnell is 72. This campaign may be his last chance to become Senate majority leader. California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman is 77. This may be his last chance to win the Derby.
Crit Luallen = Constitution. They are accomplished and classy, but neither is running in the big race. Former auditor Luallen has decided not to seek the governorship next year. Injury prevents Florida Derby winner Constitution from running for the roses. The pair would have improved the respective fields.
Rand Paul = Wildcat Red. Paul was underestimated when he announced for Senate in 2010. The consistent, plucky Venezuelan colt is not getting enough respect now. Each has crossover appeal. Paul carries his unique brand of libertarian Republicanism to traditionally Democratic constituencies. Wildcat Red’s name has something for both UK and U of L fans.
Alison Lundergan Grimes = Wicked Strong. Democratic Secretary of State Grimes and the Wood Memorial winner each boast only one significant win, but still get good odds in the biggest race of their young lives.
Hal Heiner = Intense Holiday. GOP gubernatorial candidate Heiner is intense and a long, grueling campaign will be like a holiday to him. He has plenty of money and elite backers, but Louisville has not produced a governor in over a century. The horse also has wealthy hometown connections, too, but it has also been 100 years since a Louisville owner won the Derby.
Jack Conway = General a Rod (or Candy Boy). Conway’s father has a 3-year-old named General Jack that did not pan out as a Derby horse. General a Rod fits since Conway, a Democrat, is an attorney general and has authenticity issues like baseball player Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez. But some may argue that Candy Boy fits better. Conway has a distinctive coiffure-like trainer, Bob Baffert, and was last seen shedding very public crocodile tears over court-ordered gay marriage despite his previous claim to be “one tough S.O.B.”
James Comer = Dance With Fate. After his impressive win for agriculture commissioner Comer seemed fated to be the GOP gubernatorial nominee. He now must dance with Heiner in a Republican primary, but like Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes winner, Comer appears well-suited to the longer distance in the state’s biggest race.
Adam Edelen = Samraat. Edelen has not taken a false political step since winning election as auditor, but some still underestimate him as a potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Wood Memorial runner-up Samraat has never run a bad race, but is often overlooked as a Derby contender. Consistent quality characterizes the pair, and both seem destined for bigger things.
Cathy Bailey = Vicar’s in Trouble. No female Republican has won Kentucky’s governorship, and no female jockey has won the Kentucky Derby. Bailey, the former American ambassador to Latvia, has a lot of assets and is rumored to be serious about running for governor. The talented Rosie Napravnik, who rides Louisiana Derby winner Vicar’s in Trouble for leading owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, has a real shot in the Run for the Roses. Bailey will be in trouble if she gets in the gubernatorial race.
Greg Stumbo = Tapiture. The Democratic speaker of the state House of Representatives and the colt by leading sire Tapit are gifted, but controversial. Stumbo’s past performances include dubious dealings, scandals dodged or suppressed, and the sort of shenanigans that give politics a bad name. Tapiture is trained by Steve Asmussen, whom a PETA/New York Times undercover expose’ portrayed in much the same way.
Matt Bevin = Hoppertunity. Bevin believed he could be the GOP Senate nominee despite not having run for anything before. Hopportunity is trying to win the Derby without having raced as a 2 year-old. Apollo did that, in 1882, but none since. The colt’s chances are considerably better than Bevin’s.
Steve & Andy Beshear = Uncle Sigh & Medal Count. Kentucky’s avuncular Democratic governor is, sigh, hoping his son breaks his political maiden in next year’s attorney general race. The younger Beshear is busy counting campaign money, not medals, much of it from state employees and contractors. Too bad Cairo Prince isn’t running since Andy Beshear seeks to become a Kynect Prince!
Dan Mongiardo = Danza. Of Mongiardo, the Democratic former lieutenant governor who narrowly lost the 2004 Senate race, his fellow Eastern Kentuckians are asking, “Think Danza gonna run fer guvner?”
Kentucky’s politicians are not horses, of course, no matter how much they may sometimes bring to mind a particular rearward part of the equine anatomy! Enjoy the races, political and thoroughbred.
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.