Elizabeth to encounter rowdy lot at Louisville

first_imgThe writer thinks calling her Your Majesty “does violence to the words `all men are created equal.”‘ The guy is stirred up by a little economic inequity, the fact the British government “gives(s) her millions of pounds each year, although she is one of the richest people in the world.” A new Kentucky view This will be Elizabeth’s first visit to Louisville, part of a six-day U.S. trip that began Thursday in Virginia and also takes her to Washington, D.C. On her other trips to Kentucky during her 55-year reign, she has always gone to the Lexington area, where she stays with former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain Will Farish, a fellow thoroughbred breeder (the queen has 23 broodmares, though none in the United States). A royal visit to snooty Lexington is one thing. A queen in dumpy Louisville is head-spinning. “I’ve seen her at Keeneland,” Maryjean Wall, racing writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader, said the other morning as we walked out of the Churchill Downs stable-area gate, past the working-class houses across the street. “I have a hard time picturing her here.” Here’s Louisville for you: Papa John’s, a pizza chain based here, has celebrated the royal visit by offering the royal family free pizza for life. Assuming that the queen is situated somewhere that affords her a view not only of the anticipated battle between Curlin and Street Sense but also of the huge crowd expected at Churchill Downs for the 133rd Kentucky Derby, she’ll get an eyeful of Americana. Sport of all classes If this is a nation founded on the dream that a pauper can parlay a little ingenuity and a touch of audacity into a princely fortune, then the Kentucky Derby is its classic sports event. In the United States, the Sport of Kings is the sport of all social levels, the immigrants tending the stalls just as important as the blue-blooded billionaires owning the horses. There’s a horse, Teuflesberg, running in today’s Derby who was bought for $9,000, and another 3-year-old out there somewhere, The Green Monkey, who was auctioned in February 2006 for $16million. And then there are the bettors, likely to send more than $100million through the nation’s parimutuel windows on this two-minute race, chasing prizes as big as 2005’s $864,253 payoff for a $1 superfecta bet. Of course, for the bettors, economic mobility can work both ways. Louisville’s city fathers are undeniably proud that a queen is coming to town. “It says something about the Derby that it has universal appeal from the royals to us regular folks,” Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said. “Louisville shines on Derby Day.” The populace ranges from awed – and frightened of doing or saying the wrong thing if they bump into Elizabeth on the mezzanine (well, that would be the wrong thing right there) – to pointedly unimpressed that some old gal from across the pond is being treated like, well, you know. Indian Charlie, an irreverent Kentucky horse-racing newsletter, printed what is supposed to be the queen’s Derby Day itinerary. It included “4 p.m. – Go to the Churchill Downs jocks room to get Calvin Borel’s autograph” and “7:30p.m. – Host a dinner party at Nacho Mama’s …” I don’t know what’s going to be more fun today: watching the race or thinking of the long-shot possibility of the queen of England mixing it up with the horseplayers of America. Kevin Modesti is the Los Angeles Newspaper Group’s sports editor. He writes occasionally. [email protected] (818) 713-3616160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “You need not bow or curtsy unless you happen to be British,” wrote a Racing Form correspondent who is normally more wrapped up in the regal bloodlines of horses. “If she engages you in conversation, you should simply call her ma’am.” It went on: “If the queen extends her hand to shake yours, by all means accept. But try to refrain from vigorously pumping the royal arm; a brief touch is preferred.” Not-so-pleasantries Not everything said in anticipation of the queen’s fifth visit to Kentucky has been so respectful. Frankly, though I haven’t polled the press box at Churchill Downs, I get the idea most of my colleagues would rather catch a glimpse of Helen Mirren than the woman who plays Helen Mirren in real life. A local radio host was heard to muse sarcastically about all this excitement about “the president of a small European country.” And a Courier-Journal letter writer suggested the “proper way to deal with her is to shower her with overripe fruit and send her scurrying from our shores.” LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The queen comes to the Kentucky Derby today, the living symbol of Great Britain’s ancient class consciousness coming face to 150,000 faces with an enduring symbol of America’s rowdy class mobility. Actually, the culture clash already had its comical beginning, days before Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs at a time and location that have been closely guarded secrets here. Newspapers from the Louisville Courier-Journal to the Daily Racing Form have been offering etiquette tips this week for horse-racing fans who expect to find themselves in The Presence. Now, if that isn’t quintessentially, preciously American. Assuming that if royalty comes to town, of course you’ll get to see her – you’ll probably meet her. Where? In the betting line? At the beer stand? The Racing Form (of all things!) advised that the queen should be addressed as Your Majesty upon first meeting. last_img

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