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That Horse Coulda Been A Contender!

May 15, 2013

Every cartoonist knows there’s always one more desert island gag. This one was inspired by this year’s Kentucky Derby, won by Orb on a very wet and muddy track.

Part of the joke here keys off the fact that some horses run better than others on a wet track. Such a horse is referred to as a mudder.cartoon inspired by Kentucky Derby horse on desert isle running around palm tree in rain splashing mud, fish observing that some horses run well on muddy track

More horse racing slang: in researching this post, I learned that this year’s Derby took place on a sloppy track, as opposed to a muddy track.

A muddy track is just wet. A sloppy track is so wet, it has standing water. Here’s a detail from the cartoon.
detail image from cartoon inspired by Kentucky Derby horse on desert isle running around palm tree in rain splashing mud, fish observing that some horses run well on muddy track

How muddy was it at this year’s Derby? Here’s a photo of winning horse and jockey as they crossed the finish line.

Orb was the favorite, but he had to come from far back to win. If you’d like to see the race, you can watch this 3-minute clip on YouTube.racehorse Orb and jockey galloping on muddy sloppy track splattered with mud as they win 2013 Kentucky Derby horse race

Ever been to the Kentucky Derby?

Ever bet on a horse race and won some serious money?

Do you wear galoshes when you run in the mud??

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2013 10:41 AM

    Hi Mark, I love the fact that you have the fish commenting with an umbrella and the little details of stuff flying the the air (worm/fishbone/etc.) I do wear my galoshes when I walk in the mud, I have bet on a pony race but have not won big. I stop now that I have become a more enlightened animal respector:-) I have never been to the Kentucky Derby but would love to just so I could buy a huge, cool hat an drink mint juleps:-) Orb is a magnificent creature. I hope he has a great life and that someday I can have some horses of my own to add to my list of rescues:-) You are one creative Mudder Mark!!


    • May 17, 2013 8:55 AM

      Ah, my dear Tracey–! Your appreciation of all the little details warms my heart like a mint julep! Yes, I can see you walking around wearing one of those magnificent hats– in fact, you’re probably wearing one now!!

      I’ve never been to the Derby either. I’ve been to Saratoga in upstate New York a few times. I’m one of those people who bets $2 on a horse if it has an interesting name– which probably explains why I haven’t won much over the years… : P

      Yes, it’s true, I am a mudder. If I see any kind of Mud Pie on a menu, I order it!! Thanks, as always, Tracey, for your wonderful support! : )


  2. Margie permalink
    May 15, 2013 12:13 PM

    I like your fish – such an interesting and observant couple! They remind me of the little worm that often appeared in the cartoons of Edd Uluschak of the Edmonton Journal.

    I read a joke the other day about something that took place on a desert island and that made me think about how odd the term ‘desert island’ is. In popular culture, a desert island usually isn’t what I think of as a desert – it often has lush growth. So I did some research and a desert island is ‘desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied’… or, in the case of your island occupied by a horse!


    • May 17, 2013 9:00 AM

      Worms and fish– who can explain their enduring appeal?? : P

      Thanks for your research on the term desert island, Margie. It’s always sounded like an oxymoron to me, too– like jumbo shrimp, for example. If it’s a desert, it should have a camel on it– but they never do. I guess my horse must be part-Arabian… : )

      Good to see you, thanks a heap for your support! : )


  3. Bob Johnson permalink
    May 15, 2013 2:49 PM

    I didn’t do well this year, I had my money on Goldencents, came in about 16th.
    Last year i had the winner, I’ll have another, I picked that name because we always have a Kentucky Derby party with the big screen in the auditorium, among other things serving mint juleps. In the end I decided not to have another mint julep, not my favorite drink.
    Liked your illustration.


    • May 17, 2013 9:08 AM

      Ah, my dear fellow–!! That’s the bad thing about horses that finish 16th– they don’t pay golden cents, they don’t even pay copper sense!!

      I can see why the name I’ll Have Another would appeal to you. I remember when we’d have coffee break together at the Peerless Café, you’d hand me your empty cup and say, “I’ll have another.” Then you’d take another donut off my plate to go with it. Thanks a lot!!

      Always a pleasure, my friend, thanks for your jolly fine comment!! : )


  4. May 15, 2013 3:13 PM

    On the title alone, I was expecting to see a horse imitating Marlon Brando:
    “I coulda been a contenda, Chahlie” or even Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa.


    • May 17, 2013 9:10 AM

      Ha! I love a guy who can write with an accent– excellent, Jak! I’ll file your idea away– there’s another cartoon in there somewhere!! : )


      • May 18, 2013 2:49 AM

        Thank you, Mark! Linguistics continues to be a loved hobby for me. I’ll be looking forward to such a cartoon!


  5. Brad permalink
    May 15, 2013 11:44 PM

    I have been to all three legs of the triple crown. The Kentucky Derby was by far the best of the three races
    .I had front row seats about an eighth of a mile from the finish line and the weather was perfect. Unlike the mud in this years race.


    • May 17, 2013 9:20 AM

      Sir–! I knew you were a reckless hot-rodder from way back, but I didn’t realize you were a horse race fan as well. No wonder you were always too broke to buy me lunch. It also explains those large hats you used to wear in the office, and how you had to walk thru doors sideways… : )

      Front rows seats, eh? Sounds right for a first-class guy. Great to hear from you, Brad, thanks a heap for checking in! : )


  6. May 16, 2013 7:28 PM

    I’ll remember this when cycling through rain…there goes the mudder on wheels!


    • May 17, 2013 9:22 AM

      Jean, I think you must be the original tough mudder on wheels! I can’t imagine a little rain slowing you down at all. Just stay off those desert islands– it gets a little monotonous cycling around the one palm tree… : )


  7. May 17, 2013 12:11 AM

    I enjoy watching The Triple Crown every year. That was a mighty fine muddy (sloppy) Kentucky Derby this year. And that is a mighty fine illustration, Mr. Armstrong. You can’t go wrong with a horse and two fish. As long as they’re not walking into a bar.


    • May 21, 2013 1:13 PM

      You’re a horse racing fan? Of course you are– you like thrillers! And I can easily picture you wearing an enormous hat as you type out your latest… : )

      Two fish and a horse walk into a bar… I’m going to be thinking about that for the rest of the day– I know there’s a joke and/or a cartoon in there somewhere!!

      Always great to see you, Maddie, and many thanks for your lovely comment. : )


  8. May 19, 2013 9:48 PM

    I refuse to go to the Kentucky Derby unless I’ll look as good in those big hats as Audrey Hepburn did in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
    If I encountered that sloppy track, it would be “mutter, mutter.” Love your illustrations, Mark.


    • May 21, 2013 1:21 PM

      Nonsense, my dear Judy!! You’d look more glamorous than Audrey any day! I think I have an old baseball cap I can lend you, and I’ll sew some roses on it just as soon as I can plant and harvest some… : )

      A mutterer– ha! I think you’ve just coined a new horse racing term: someone who doesn’t like sloppy track conditions because they don’t like to get spots on their brand-new white sneakers… : P

      Thanks as always, Judy, for your wonderful support!


  9. May 20, 2013 10:50 PM

    I’m so glad you posted the Kentucky Derby, Mark! I didn’t see it the first time, but oh I got goosebumps watching it! Oh those horses are so spectacular. Who would have ever thought Orb’s jockey would wait so long to give him the reins! I loved your cartoon! You perfectly captured Orb’s smile! (I own a retired racehorse who I affectionately nicknamed Sedintariat and he sometimes smiles just like that.)

    I also go by the name of the horse when I bet and always bet on the horse with the easiest name to yell. I haven’t been to the races for years, but last time I went, I won three races using this method! (Hey, maybe I should to more often!)

    And yes, it is interesting that a desert island is described as a desert. Of course, if it were a dessert island, I guess it wouldn’t be a deserted island anymore. Okay, now I’m even confusing myself — which really isn’t that hard to do, now that I think about it.


    • May 23, 2013 8:33 AM

      I was in the Derby myself. Did you see me? I was the guy carrying the horse on his back… : P

      Sedintariat– haw!! That’s not a race horse– that’s a takes-up-space horse!!

      A dessert island– now that sounds like a place worth getting marooned on!! Which just goes to prove that even when you confuse yourself, you’re still smarter than the rest of us!!

      Wonderful to see you, Linda! : )


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