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Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Him From This

May 03, 2003|Mike Hiserman

Retired record company executive Phil Chess is eagerly anticipating a special tune today:

The 33 notes it takes to play "Call to the Post" at the Kentucky Derby.

Chess, best known for helping launch the musical careers of Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry, is owner of Indian Express, the sentimental favorite of many music fans.

There are some who believe that without Phil Chess, there might not have been the Rolling Stones, who are said to have originated in England when guitarist Brian Jones asked to borrow Keith Richards' copy of "Best of Muddy Waters" on the Chess Records label.

When Richards and Jones later formed a band, they used the name of one of Waters' songs, "Rollin' Stone."

Several of the Stones' recordings might even be appropriate tunes for Chess to hum today.

Consider: "You Can't Catch Me," "Ride on Baby," or "When the Whip Comes Down."

If those fail, he can always try, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."

Trivia question: Who is the only Triple Crown-winning jockey to ride Derby winners in consecutive years?

Trivia II: Who was the first woman to ride in the Derby, and who was the last?

She's a longshot: Rosemary Homeister Jr. -- she uses the Jr. so people can tell her from her mother of the same name, a trainer -- will be only the fifth woman jockey in 129 Derbies.

She will be aboard 50-1 Supah Blitz, a horse that has won two of 15 races and is winless this year in five stakes events.

Homeister's racing connections are at least as good as the horse's. Both of her parents were jockeys, as is her husband, Jose Ferrer.

A 10th-place finish in the field of 16 would be the best ever for a female jockey in the Derby, but she's aiming higher.

Homeister told Reuters, "I told [trainer] Manny Tortora that the No. 1 hole" -- Supah Blitz will break from the rail -- "is the shortest way home, and that's what we're going to do."

Trivia answer: Ron Turcotte won aboard Riva Ridge in 1972 and Secretariat in '73.

Answer II: Diane Crump was the first, finishing 15th aboard Fathom in 1970. Julie Krone was the most recent, riding Suave Prospect to an 11th-place finish in 1995. Krone is also the only woman to have ridden more than once in the Derby. Her debut was aboard Ecstatic Ride, who finished 14th in 1992.

And finally: As much a part of Derby Day tradition as the race, mint juleps and the playing of "My Old Kentucky Home" are the colorful dresses and designer hats worn by well-heeled women in the crowd.

"It's all about the hats," designer Angie Schultz told Bloomberg News.

"To have a hat that nobody else has is spectacular."

And costly. Some are priced at $1,000 or more.

There will also be a fair share of fans just horsin' around in their joke hats, which the snoots frown upon, of course.

One Manhattan hat maker says he was turned off last year by hats he saw decorated with pinwheels and others featuring mint julep glasses and battery-operated horses racing around the brim.

By a Kentucky designer, obviously.

-- Mike Hiserman

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