Third Time's The Charm

by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence

“I feel like the luckiest Mexican on Earth.” 

So said Victor Espinoza after he won the 141st Kentucky Derby under clear, sunny skies on May 2, 2015. Considering the extraordinary pantheon of lucky Mexicans, that’s a bold statement.    

While I imagine Pedro Chespirito and Nacho Libre (pictured above) might mount a legitimate defense to Victor’s claim of most fortuitous citizen of our neighbor to the south, the diminutive equine racer might ultimately be right. Especially if he can guide American Pharoah, the latest thoroughbred sensation, to the first Triple Crown victory since 1978. It’s been a coon’s age, as we say in Kentucky, since America last saw a horse run the 5-week gauntlet that is the premier spectacle in thoroughbred racing. But, if my mother was right, it may just be about time.

Fashions come and fashions go. History repeats itself, or so they say. 

When I was a kid, my mother would tell me, “If you wait about 30-40 years, everything will come back in style.” I dismissed her sage reflections, as I believed, like most young people, that my era was different. Distinct. Unique. After all, there was no Atari when Mom was a kid, so what could she know?

Turns out, Mom knew a lot, and not just about fashion trends. She, after all, was the one who explained to me that no matter how much chemists and dieticians tried to improve our health with low-fat alternatives, the best and flakiest pie crusts will always only be possible through the use of real lard. After 40+ years on this Earth, and thousands of slices of pie, I have to agree. 

Since I agree with her on pie crust, I may also be persuaded to join her conclusion that “what goes around comes around”, and King Solomon’s wisdom that “there is nothing new under the sun.”

In many ways, the current decade shares some similarities with the era of Nixon & Carter. (By the way, Mom also said, so-and-so has more “___________ than Carter’s got liver pills.” What does that mean?) 

How is today’s world reminiscent of the 1970’s? 

  1. Economic malaise 
  2. Turbulent college campuses
  3. Boldly colored sweaters
  4. Tab diet soda
  5. Fashion magazines pictorial collages

Now that I’ve clearly dispelled any notion to the contrary that we aren’t currently living in the 70’s redux, there’s really only one thing left to usher in the Age of Aquarius, Jr.

That’s right, a Triple Crown horse. The 1970’s were epic in many regards, but perhaps most notably in thoroughbred racing. After nearly three decades of drought in the Triple Crown winner’s circle, the 70’s burst open like a torrential downpour, producing three winners in six years. Beginning in 1973, the floodgates were opened by Secretariat, the greatest racehorse to ever live. He shattered (and still holds) the record times at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont. 

It really is worth watching this Belmont race, if you never have before:

We’ve come full circle as we await the third leg of the Triple Crown this Saturday. For you see, Mom really was right. If you wait long enough, fashions return. And bloodlines have a way of proving themselves over time. For guess who is American Pharoah’s great-great-great maternal grandfather? That’s right, none other than Secretariat.  

Here’s hoping the stylish fop from Zayat Stables, ridden by that most charmed (and charming) Mexican jockey, follows in his great-great-great grandpappy’s hooves. Here’s hoping American Pharoah wins the Triple Crown – we could use some joy and good cheer as the summer heat kicks in.  

Do yourself a favor and tune in this Saturday evening. Watch history unfold. And have a slice of pie. Here’s my favorite recipe for the crust, all you have to do is throw in the filling of your choice. Bon Appetit!