There is, frankly, no time to bone up on the particulars. The race is, good heavens, Saturday. The foreign press is already headed over to Keeneland because they heard about the abundance of bourbon. And we all cannot be caught standing around looking like horse idiots.
There's a new horse race in town. It involves Arabian horses, people. The kind from the desert.
Well, not exactly the desert. They're from here, but their ancestors hail from the desert, and these horses are coming to take over our racetrack.
We have to be on guard.
I'm not speaking militarily. I'm speaking cocktail-party chatter-wise.
Because, really, Keeneland is our swankiest and most coveted critical opportunity for showing off what we know about horses. And what with the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games also in town, this many-horse town has never been horsier. So if ever there is a time, this is the time to own the conversation.
Have no fear. We are your new best friend. Herewith, a few quick in-the-know things you can slip in to make yourself sound downright savvy about those Arabian horses that will be running around the Keeneland track this weekend. Because savvy is so 10 minutes from now.
Dumb queries you can field without spilling your drink
■ Random stranger: "I thought the horses would be white."
You say: "That is so Lawrence of Arabia of you. And, yes, it used to be that you'd have a lot of grays and bays. But now it's a lot of chestnuts. You can blame the French stallions they bred with — lots of red in them — for that."
■ Same random stranger: "I thought their faces and necks and legs would look different."
You say: "They've been breeding the Arabians for speed for 20 years, and these days they look much like Thoroughbreds. Except they're smaller. But that's changing, too."
■ Someone you know: "Hey (insert your name here), you're supposed to know so much about horses, surely you can tell the difference by looking."
You retort: "As a matter of fact, I can. The Arabians will be a little wider between the eyes and will have a little longer face, not the extremely sculpted face of show Arabians. Their muzzles are big and square, not like little teacups in the show horse variety, because they need to breathe well if they are going to run long and fill their lungs. Pllbbbtttt."
Smart stuff you can idly drop in that will make you look like Bob Baffert but you probably don't have his great hair
■ "Every Thoroughbred descends from an Arabian sire and an English mare. Every one. In fact, if you want to be kind of technical, the Darley Arabian has had the most influence on the Thoroughbred breed. His great-great-great grandson was Eclipse, perhaps the greatest Thoroughbred racehorse ever. And as many as 90 percent of Thoroughbreds today can trace their line back to the Darley."
■ "Man o' War had the Godolphin Arabian in him, which is responsible for Big Red's notorious speed and good temper."
■ "Arabian racing is the fastest-growing segment in the racing industry. There's something that makes you go hmmm."
Five fast facts you can throw out to no one in particular right before the start of the race
■ "When they asked the Keeneland jockeys last year if any of them objected to riding the Arabians in this race, 90 percent of them already had experience on the horse."
■ "I'll bet these horses run about seven or eight seconds slower than Thoroughbreds would at this distance."
■ "This is the first time these horses have run over Polytrack."
■ "Watch the Arabians closely. Their movement and carriage is different when they run."
■ "If you ever get a chance to bet on Sand Witch, do it. She's the Zenyatta of Arabians."
Fact to state really loudly if you are a woman in a crowd of obnoxious men
"In the desert, the Bedouins chose the Arabian mares as their war horses. They were found to be more courageous than the stallions and would never nicker to alert the opponent's horses of an impending raid like some other sex of horse might."