05/05/2011 4:07PM

No Derby for You


Okay so I'm home in California pining for the damp green vistas of Ol' Kentucky, trying to imagine what it must be like to be Jon Court or Kerwin Clark this week about to ride in their first Kentucky Derby at a combined age of 102 (Jon is 23, Kerwin is 79 -- not really) when somebody brightens my day with a hashtag entitled Seinfeldderbyhorsenames. Finally, Twitter is good for something besides overthrowing Middle Eastern despots.

Us twits were encouraged to mine the rich trove of Seinfeld characters and catch-phrases and come up with the choice among them that could be proudly attached to horses running in America's most famous Thoroughbred race. I could list a few of them, but that would be no fun. Instead, here is a cluster mixing the Seinfelders with the names of horses actually running in this year's Derby. Those of you closely following the race will know which is which, but it's hard to deny that a few of the folks who named their colts must have at least tuned in to Jerry's reruns on a regular basis.

Take your pick --

Pants on Fire, Puffy Shirt, The Maestro, Mucho Macho Man, Soup Nazi, Yadayadayada, Archarcharch, Jimmy Legs, Spongeworthy, Stay Thirsty, Close Talker, Uncle Leo, Mulva, Santiva, Uncle Mo, Ugly Baby, Master of Hounds.

(For those asking the obvious question, yes there is a Thoroughbred out there named Serenity Now, a foal of 2009. We can only hope....)

This is the one time of year that horse racing leaks into the general consciousness. The man in the street is not forgiven if he does not know the Derby is on Saturday. Even that quiet, black-and-white corner of the TV universe, Turner Movie Classics, dedicated a huge hunk of time to horse racing in film last Monday evening into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The Marx brothers' "Day at the Races" was followed by "Stablemates" with Mickey Rooney and Noah Beery, "Fast Company" with Polly Bergen and Howard Keel, "The Story of Seabiscuit" with a teenage Shirley Temple, and "Glory" with Margaret O'Brien. "Pride of the Bluegrass" came next, and this you've got to see to believe (here's the trailer -- http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/225453/Pride-of-the-Blue-Grass-Original-Trailer-.html).

The marathon ended with Clark Gable in "Sporting Blood" and then a cringeworthy Al Jolson in black face shuffling through "Big Boy" from 1930, begging the question:  What kind of judgment will be passed on the movie content of 2011 in the year 2092? And should we apologize in advance for "Saw VI" before it's too late?

Finally, it can't really be Derby week unless David Letterman brings Dave Johnson on "The Late Show" on Derby eve with Johnson's trademark "...and down the stretch they come."

"We taped it Monday," Johnson said. "David loves it. In all the years I've done it I was only bumped once. That was in 2007 when I picked Street Sense and Dave told me to bet a hundred dollars for him. One of the other guests that night was Hillary Clinton. When her segment went long, guess who got bumped."

As usual, Johnson mocked up a call for this year's Derby and left them with Soldat leading Dialed In, Mucho Macho Man and Nehro before hitting the high notes of his catch-line.  

"That's who I like," Johnson said, "but I never get to finish. By now, when I get to 'down the stretch they come' the crowd goes wild."