This time, it’s an event I remember from my Florida days, the Daytona 500; I believe the cars are running now as I write this. Living just sixty miles from the track, I can testify there’s some truth to the joke that Rednecks think the last four words of the national anthem are, “Gentlemen, start your engines.” In Seminole and Volusia County you’ll find folks who believe that! I’m also impressed that here in Lexington the Daytona 500 is getting more attention than the Indy 500, though Indianapolis is much closer. By contrast, in Florida you have to be a NASCAR fan, or you won’t notice the Indy 500 at all.
This past week there was also a lot of talk about a really bad basketball game last Tuesday, between the University of Kentucky and Vanderbilt University. After suffering a poor season in November, December and January, things were looking up for UK; the Wildcats won five games in a row. Then came the game with Vanderbilt, and whereas UK had beaten Vanderbilt in their last encounter, this time Vanderbilt skunked the Wildcats, winning 93-52. You read that right, a 41-point difference; UK hasn’t been beaten that badly since 1989. I heard UK fans describe the game as “inexcusable, embarrassing, and inexplicable!” Fortunately UK recovered enough to win yesterday’s game against LSU; they needed to win or the basketball season might as well have ended right now.
On a distantly related note, casino gambling is still a hot topic in local politics. Ever since he was sworn in two months ago, Governor Beshear has been saying, “The budget crisis is worse than I feared, we need casinos to solve the deficit!” Last week he unveiled his plan to let twelve casinos open around the state at sporting facilities. One will be at Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, and two will be at Keeneland and Red Mile, the horse racing tracks in Lexington. Of course there will be more debating before any of this becomes a reality. Still, someone needs to ask the governor if he really wants to be remembered for bringing casinos to Kentucky, with all the crime and other problems that come with them. And because there’s only a limited amount of money to be made from gambling, whenever a new casino opens up, older ones suffer a slump. I’m sure Las Vegas, Atlantic City and the casino in Indiana that advertises on the radio aren’t thrilled by this proposal.