Saturday, January 24, 2004


So I get to share oxygen with Gary "Damn I Look Good In Goggles" Stevens this week. We shall breathe together, bless his left-handed whipping little heart, at the Eclipse Awards.

The Awards, for those of you not up on your black tie Thoroughbred racing awards ceremonies, are the Oscars of the racing world. Best horse! Best jockey! Larry King-Merv Griffin-Chris McCarron Interview Most Likely To Make You Wish For Death! Best Ninety-Seven-Year-Old At the Crappy Neighborhood Track Who's Been Handicapping Since Horses Were Domesticated And Yet Somehow Still Sucks At It!

I work in the Thoroughbred racing media, and if you work in the Thoroughbred racing media, the Eclipse Awards are totally the place to be. They are the high-school-quarterback's-parents-are-out-of-town kegger. They are Dish City. They are the rich old white people's version of the infield party at the Kentucky Derby, only richer and older and whiter.

The Eclipse Awards are such a big deal ("Have fun with the Rich and the Short!" my friend Gail told me) that I'm breaking out the Victoria's Secret Body Slimmer. When you're digging through the lingerie drawer for something from Vicky's that you don't necessarily want anybody to see you wearing, you are running with some seriously swank company.

I haven't attended a black-tie event since--- um, never, which meant I had to go dress shopping, which made me happy, because dresses involve sparkly things, and sparkly things are better than anything in the whole entire world including orgasm. I actually forewent the Junior department for a grown-up girl dress shoppe. I don't think I've ever handed over my credit card in an actual "shoppe" before; apparently there is some sort of ranking system at work here determining which dress stores gets to be a "shoppe" and which stores rate as "boutiques" and so forth. It seems to have something to do with providing individual dressing rooms the size of Albania and possessing the moral authority to charge $574 for a shoe dye job.

Like everything else in my life, dress shoppe-ing immediately became hideously complicated. I found a gown that actually did not make me look like a German transvestite on holiday, but it was too long.

"Well," the salesgirl sighed, "you could get it altered" (chingchingchingching) "or, you could just wear a nice set of stilettos."

I looked at her. "Honey," I said, "I'm gonna be in a roomfull of jockeys."

But still: $180 and a new set of errands and getting stuck in the ankle by a series of small sharp objects versus.... an excuse to go shoe shopping.

My new shoes are very nice.

They also have the added benefit of raising me to a height at which my excellent rack will be precisely at eye-level, if you're a jockey. So this could be worse.

It really is a beautiful ensemble (I can call it an "ensemble," seeing as it came from a "shoppe") and I even have one of those utterly gorgeous, completely useless tiny beaded purses that I totally have to remember to hide the tags on before Monday. I have a sinking feeling I will never use this purse for anything else but carrying one or two TicTacs to the Eclipse Awards, because I ain't fitting anything else in there. Even Gary.

The dress pretty much the most formal thing I've ever owned, outside of the gloves I made my sister add to my maid of honor uniform in exchange for making me wear something so mind-blowingly boring in front of every single person I knew at the time. My Horse Oscars dress is pewter (shiny gray, for you straight men out there) with a black tulle overlay and silver beadwork so delicate I'm afraid to breathe on it directly. I am going to look so elegant as I step out of my '97 Corolla.

I'll be driving down a day early because if I get lost, which I can pretty much guarantee I will seeing as this afternoon at lunch I actually got lost in a bathroom stall, I'll still have 36 hours or so to make the awards. I'm hoping to make it in time to see Sunday's card at Gulfstream, which will include Funny Cide's jockey, Jose Santos. I plan on asking him about coming in within a couple furlongs of winning the Triple Crown, because I bet nobody ever, ever mentions that to him.

I also plan on doing some very serious people-watching. I know you wish you were my date so you had an entire evening of "Look, there's Ryan Fogelsonger!" "Look, there's Julie Krone!" "Look, there's-- oh wait, it's just an unusually short waiter" to look forward to.

The awards will take place at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa (motto: "Well La-Di-Da") in Hallandale. The Diplomat has its own marina. And probably those cool-ass stamp thingies that leave the logo of the hotel in the gravel of the standing ashtrays. So.... yeah, I'll be staying at the Holiday Inn across the street. I was offered a "promotional rate" since I am with the Eclipse Awards, but one night at the "promotional rate" still equaled the GNP of several small Central American nations.

I look forward to my stay at the Holiday Inn, however. They have a tiki bar.

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