All of the inside scoop on Virginia's biggest day of Steeplechase racing -- the Virginia Gold Cup. Hey, 50,000 of your closest friends can't be wrong! Do you have your tickets yet?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The Virginia Gold Cup according to Lady Ga Ga:  First off don’t arrive in an egg, as tempting as that might be.  Which begs the question: Where would one get such an egg? Or maybe
Lady Gaga in concert. (Mathew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
BAD ROMANCE: We can’t do much about a bad date or a bad relationship, but here’s what we do know.  If you are not in a good place, go to the Gold Cup together.  It will put you in a better place.  If it’s an early date or (yikes!) a first date, and you don’t have fun.  Run.  If you can’t have fun with someone at the Gold Cup, it’s doomed. Run away.  As fast as you can.   Otherwise, bring your favorite person and enjoy a wonderful day in the country.  Get dressed up.  Be romantic.  Have fun.
(Youhoojuju via Flickr)
POKER FACE:  You will only need your poker face if you and your fellow party goers decide to place a friendly wager and you have managed to acquire some inside information about who may or may not win a particular race.  If you have been paying attention all these years, you will note the names of the famous jockeys and trainers.  They are famous, (and they return year after year as well) because they win year after year…
(Henry Stern via Flickr)
PAPARAZZI:  Everybody with a camera a the Gold Cup is a paparazzi  and everybody being photographed is a star.  There are some prime targets such as the Jack Russell Races, the Tailgate Contest and the Hat Contest.  Then there are all of your good looking friends and your tailgate or party tent neighbors.  Don’t be shy, look for the perfect photo op.  Who knows, it could turn up on the Virginia Blog Cup.

ALEJANDRO:  Alejandro says, and we quote: “Nunca he estado aquí antes ni me tengo nunca estado cualquier cosa absolutamente como esto. No tenemos carreras de caballos y partidos al aire libre como esto de donde vengo. Donde estoy de nosotros tenga fútbol. El fútbol no es tanta diversión como esto. Este mucho está muy claro. Aquí, los caballos son hermosos y las mujeres son hermosas también. A la gente agradable me rodeo que tiene un buen rato que planeo tan en volver a la Taza del Oro de Virginia el próximo año y a cada otro año para el resto de mi vida.”

TELEPHONE: You can take it with you to Great Meadow on Saturday, May 7, but, really, why would you? All your friends – all your important friends, that is – should be with you or somewhere else on the grounds.  So you may need your phone to find your homies.  Otherwise, you have to carry it around all day and in all the jocularity we wager a phone or two has been lost annually.  Oh, yeah, and phone service there is spotty at best.
JUST DANCE:  Feel free to dance all you want.  The further away from Members Hill and the further away from the actual horses you are the more prevalent boom boxes seem to be.  Some folks just can’t have a proper tailgate without cranking some tunes.  So feel free…just dance.  Just don’t dance on a car or in a Port-o-Potty or any other place that will lead to lengthy explanations to authority figures.

STARSTRUCK: It’s possible that a big star will turn up and it’s possible that you might bump into him/her. It has happened before.  Some local stars will be there as well, but the real STARS are the horses and riders.  Some of you remember Saluter – he won the Gold Cup six times.  Now that’s star power.  Every year the biggest equine stars come out for the races and they are not to be missed.
Here’s how this goes. Everybody has said, “I went to the Gold Cup and I never saw a horse.” Har-Har.  It’s an old joke. Let it go.
(D Clow – Maryland via Flickr)
There are wide cross sections of groups at the Gold Cup with various levels of interest. There is the "horsey" set that actually cares what happens. Usually because they know somebody involved with one of the horses or, better yet, they know one of the horses.

Then there’s the “non-horsey” set who simply finds the racing action fascinating.
Then there is the “interested to be polite” group. They pay attention to the races so as not to offend their host or hostess.
(Bankbryan via Flickr)
After that you have the “modestly interested” set who will watch a race if they happen to be looking in the right direction when the race starts. And, finally, there is the “don’t care” group.

Fact is there are five races with purses of $165,000. The Gold Cup is now run for a purse of $75,000. That’s real money.

People spend a large part of their lives looking for the “right horse” that can jump 23 big immovable obstacles while running four miles. The horses can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000. Trainers spend years and years honing their skills to condition these horses properly, and the jockeys basically risk life and limb.
(Aaron Webb via Flickr)
So go ahead, be starstruck.  They deserve it.

BEAUTIFUL, DIRTY, RICH:  Well it is the Virginia Gold Cup and there will be some beautiful people there.  There will also be some rich people there as well as some not-so-rich people.  All of you will be having a great time regardless of your socio-economic demographic. 

Now, about the “dirty” part.  You really shouldn’t be dirty unless it rains and you have worn the wrong shoes and find yourself having difficulty remaining upright due to unscheduled gravity storms or what-have-you.  At the moment, the weather forecast look great as it typically does the first Saturday in May so don’t sweat the Dirty.  Just be beautiful.  Feel free to act rich.
(Becky’s Fund via Flickr)
BOYS, BOYS, BOYS: And also girls, girls, girls.  What’s not to like?

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