Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012 Travers Special - Songs about Gambling on Horses

People who have followed the blog will know that RtBE looks forward to the end of August, because that is when the Mid Summer Derby happens, the Travers Stakes.  Here is 2011's  race in full:

Stay Thirsty ran a great race, unfortunately I had the under-performing Coil to win it after he dazzled me, coming from behind to win the Haskell, earlier that summer.  Boy was I wrong.  This year marks the unbelievable 143rd running of this great race, we have been attending the Travers for the last 10 years and look forward to catching up with old friends picking a few winners and most importantly enjoying a nice day out at the Top Of The Stretch.     
We haven't made up our minds yet on who we will picking to the win the race, currently we are leaning towards the favorite Alpha, but we will probably switch it up 5 times at least pre-race.  If you are looking for an insightful preview check out the Thoroughbred Racing Dudes, they have been pretty good this year and are a solid read.  Here is a direct link to their Travers Preview although I am not as high on the closer Street Life as they are...Coil still burns.

In years past RtBE has marked the occasion of the race with Grateful Dead shows played at SPAC not too far away from the track.  Last year we did one of our favorite posts, songs about horses.  This year we will tackle songs about gambling, with a special focus on the horses.  Click "read more" below to dive on in with your cash at hand.
Now truth be told we here at RtBE are not big gamblers; horses are easily our favorite thing to wager on, while we dabble with very small sport bets from time to time.  Honestly just watching a horse race can be as fun for us as gambling on it, that is insane in some circles but we really feel that way.  One thing we do know pretty well however are songs, and these seem to capture the spirit or wagering better then most.   While a lot of the great gambling tunes deal with cards a few deal with horses too, we will start out a bit broad (leaving out a few we know) and work our way to horse betting:

Kenny Rogers -"The Gambler"

Have to get the obvious and probably the best out of the way first.  Who could possibly dislike this song, or hate Kenny Rogers for that matter?  Not I.  Mike D said it best:
Sweet and sour like a tangerine
Fresh like a box of Krispy Kremes
Kenny Rogers' Gambler is my gambling theme
Mix Master Mike with the scratch routine
Motorhead - "Ace of Spades"

One word...LEMMY! I recently watched an amazing documentary on him and one of his favorite things to do is go his local dive bar in LA and play video poker all day.  Lemmy is fantastic. 

Grateful Dead - "Loser"

Could have picked many of the Dead's tunes for this one as Robert Hunter has a knack for writing about gamblers all around, but "Loser" really nails it.  This version is from the Dead's epic Albany run (not too far from Saratoga) that they released as Dozin' At The Knick.  I am not sure why this track didn't make the official CD release as Jerry sings his heart out and the boys play it with so much energy, losing never felt this good.    

Tom Waits - "Jitterbug Boy"

Moving into horses we will find Waits slumming it with the OTB people, because you know that is where he feels at home.  He's a throwback in every sense but when he sings about seeing the Kentucky Derby and "Faster Women, Slower Horses, Unreliable Sources" you can just see him alone at the track, cursing his luck.  This is a live version from 1977 that touches on a few classics before diving into "Jitterbug Boy" at 2:30 for the official song,

Pete Daily - "Daily Double"

Back when horse racing ruled the sports landscape there were tons of songs about horses and gambling, I would love to do a full post just on these.  Here is an instrumental from Pete Daily titled the "Daily Double" with familiar trumpet flairs from "The First Call" and other sounds old-timey track fans will find familiar.   

Betty Grable - "Better Off Betting On a Horse"

Keeping it old school and switching genders around we find Betty Grable calling out things like the Daily Double's, Longshots and Also-Rans before the horns kick it up and the show tune starts.  

Dean Martin - "Who's Got The Action?"

Forever Cool indeed.  Had to slap a Rat Pack song in here and Dean daddy singing about dames and sprinting mare's is a pretty perfect combo. 

Bill Monroe - "Molly and Tenbrooks"

Can't forget blugrass legend Bill Monroe's version of "Molly and Tenbrooks" also known as "Horse Racing Song".  Wikipedia has a good description of this one here.

The Pogues- "Bottle Of Smoke"

Perhaps the most app song for us here at RtBE as the Irish Lads devote a full 2:48 to gambling on horses and spending the riches afterwards (the lyrics are here if you can't understand the man).  The Pogues got a few more famous songs about horse gambling but this one is all about winning on one long shot, and isn't what that is all about?
 
The Band - "Up On Cripple Creek"

And we end with our favorite on this list, while we love them all, The Band's version of "Up On Cripple Creek" gets me juiced every time. Who wouldn't want to spend a day with Bessie? It also contains some of the best lines when it comes to our purposes here...playing the ponies:
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

Up on Cripple Creek she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don't have to speak, she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

I took up all of my winnings, and I gave my little Bessie half
She tore it up and threw it in my face, just for a laugh
Now there's one thing in the whole wide world, I sure would like to see
That's when that little love of mine dips her doughnut in my tea 
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Did I miss one on horse wagering?  Got another one out there?  Didn't ever think I would put Motorhead and Betty Grable on the same list...Feel Free to Comment Below, until next time best of luck with all the bets you place. 

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  2. I think we used Galway races last year but my dad was a big George Jones fan and he had a song called "the race is on" and I am pretty sure that had to do with horse racing. Also Dan Fogelberg has a song called "Run for the Roses" which is big at the derby.

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