Songs that lend a voice to the equestrian world in a way only music can.
For me, the Triple Crown has always been all about the horses. On Kentucky Derby Saturday, I hunker down for three plus hours of race day coverage so I don’t miss one single horse’s background story. And once there is a derby day winner, I start crossing my fingers for the first Triple Crown champion in my lifetime. I never really thought about the musical element of the Triple Crown races outside the singing of traditional anthems until this year. Turns out there is a whole other party going on off the racetrack.
Beer, music and betting. That was the headline from 2014 Preakness InfieldFest. While I was at home, watching California Chrome take leg two of the Triple Crown, the vast majority of revelers on hand were at the infield, drinking their bottomless beer thanks to the MUG Club, and taking in the unusual musical grouping that was Lorde, Nas and Switchfoot. Who knew?
Okay, I can admit that I might be a bit late to the infield party, but as far as the music goes I don’t think I’m missing much. I don’t mean to comment on any artist in particular, but on the curating of this so-called music festival. Is Lorde as a good headliner for daytime, beer-chugging, racetrack betting event? Simply put – no.
100% Sound can do better than that. In this playlist, take a listen to how a Triple Crown Music Festival curated by 100% Sound might resonate with race day audiences. And we’re off!
Get the full playlist on Spotify here: The Triple Crown Music Festival
THE KENTUCKY DERBY
The Kentucky Derby, the first and most famous leg of the Triple Crown, is known by most for its oversized hats, mint juleps and the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home.” But the real party is at the Churchill Downs infield, where some 80,000 attendees are getting down to DJs and playing around in mud pits that would put the original Woodstock to shame.
Why not give this arena full of wild ones some authentic Kentucky fun? Kick of the day with a few live acts that are infused with a down home bluegrass sound and know how to get a crowd on their feet. Acts like Shovels & Rope and Old Crow Medicine Show should fit the bill quite nicely. They’re names and lyrics have that instinctually equestrian feel without being too country.
1. O’ BE JOYFUL by Shovels & Rope from the album O’ Be Joyful
2. SWEET AMARILLO by Old Crow Medicine Show from the album Remedy
When the party scene is at its peak, then by all means, DJ it up! But go for a talent that knows the scene. Dee Jay Silver and his style of Country Club can rattle the oversized hats right off the well to do!
3. BLACK CADILLACS / JOLENE by Carrie Underwood / Dolly Parton (Dee Jay Silver Edit) from the album Country Club
THE PREAKNESS STAKES
The infield at the Preakness is by the far the rowdiest crowd you will see on your way to the Triple Crown. In 2009, racetrack management had to stop allowing attendees to bring in their own alcohol just to keep things under control. Of course, the other effect of the alcohol ban was to drop attendance by some 34,000!
So in 2010 it was Kegasus to the rescue! I’m not kidding. Kegasus, a centaur who was the son of Preaknesius – God of Thoroughbred Racing – and Shelly McDougal, a waitress from Ellicott City, also known as the “Lady of the Bottomless Refill, became the mascot for the newly created InfieldFest. And the party returned to the Preakness. After all this controversial advertising campaign from Elevation Ltd. proudly promised “A 10-hour party to celebrate a two-minute race. Now you’re talking.” Kegasus was officially scraped in 2013, but he lives on thanks to the Internet. Catch him on YouTube here.
And InfieldFest lives on as well, though with those aforementioned questionable music choices. If 100% Sound were bringing the party, the lineup would go something little more like this. Start with some appropriate pop bands with songs that are accessible to the masses. Youngblood Hawke is a great choice since they already had a win with their song “We Come Running” at Santa Anita racetrack. And American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life” is the go to song for any great event this year. Let’s not have The Preakness miss out.
4. WE COME RUNNING by Youngblood Hawke from the album Wake Up
5. BEST DAY OF MY LIFE by American Authors from the album Oh, What A Life
As for headliners, The Black Keys and OutKast seem to be the obvious choices. The Black Keys because, well seriously, who doesn’t like The Black Keys. Plus their hit song “Tighten Up” literally suggests that you “tighten up on your reins” because “you’re running wild.” I think that’s a message racetrack management would be on board with.
6. TIGHTEN UP by The Black Keys from the album Brothers
Meanwhile, OutKast is the prefect choice for The Preakness to poke a little fun at The Kentucky Derby. These two races seem to have a bit of a rivalry going as to which one can bring the better party. OutKast’s song “Roses” will let the Derby know just what the Stakes thinks of their show. Think about it! And maybe we can finally see Andre 3000 in his “Hey Ya!” jockey costume!
7. ROSES by OutKast from the album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
THE BELMONT STAKES
The Belmont has no infield access, preferring to keep race day classy. So “classy,” in fact, that attendees booed native son, Jay Z’s, New York anthem “Empire State of Mind” in 2010. While I’m still annoyed about that, I will give race management props for the inclusion somewhat unlikely act Bernie Williams in their musical selections this year.
Bernie Williams is a four-time World Series champion with the Yankees, who retired in 2006, and has since pursued his other love, jazz guitar. His collaborations with Jon Secada and Bruce Springsteen suggest that his new career is also going well. I can’t say I know any acts that would go over better than Williams as entertainment for something called the “Champaign Room” at the Belmont Stakes. My hat is off to Williams on all his success.
8. LA SALSA EN MI by Bernie Williams
As for the other musical selections at the Belmont, one is uninspired and the other is a bit strange. First up is the famous crooner needed to lead the crowd in the singing of “New York New York.” The Belmont’s choice for this post – Frank Sinatra, Jr. Surprise, surprise. 100% Sound, on the other hand, would love to see Jeff Bridges carry this sing along. First of all, Bridges is more than prepared. He has his own successful singing career and actually imitated Sinatra singing “New York New York” in the 1984 film “Starman.” And bonus – Bridges also played the owner of the world famous Seabiscuit on film!
Alas, Bridges hasn’t been recorded singing “New York New York” yet, so for this playlist, enjoy his song from “Crazy Heart,” “Fallin’ & Flyin’”
9. FALLIN’ & FLYIN’ by Jeff Bridges from the album Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
And finally, perhaps to make up for the Jay Z slight, the musical portion of the Triple Crown will end with a two-song set from LL Cool J. I do appreciate the thought of giving a native New York rapper a place at The Belmont, but I can’t say I see this as a crowd pleaser. Instead, keep the thought but change the act to John Legend, featuring Rick Ross. You can get soulful crooning and respectable rap all in one shot with “Who Do We Think We Are,” from John Legends currently massively successful album, “Love In The Future.” I think even those classy folks would find something to relate to in this tune.
So let’s sing The Triple Crown Music Festival out in style with John Legend, Rick Ross, and those Belmonters! Oh yeah, and go California Chrome!
10. WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE by John Legend & Rick Ross from the album Love In The Future