Makin' bets on Kentucky Derby Day....
I've never been to the Kentucky Derby. It's one of those things like the running of the bulls in Pamplona that you're supposed to do before you die. I haven't run with the bulls either.
Horse races are stupid. Running with the bulls is pretty stupid, too. But there's a history and tradition that gives these superficial things a deep resonance. History and tradition coupled with cultural references, that is. Hemingway wrote about the running of the bulls and made it permanent part of the American psyche.
The Kentucky Derby's Hemingway is Hunter S. Thompson. His The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved can be read here. If you haven't read everything Thompson has ever written twice, this is a great introduction to both Thompson and the Derby.
The other cultural reference that comes to mind today is the Rolling Stones' Dead Flowers. Here's the live version off the awesome country-rockish album Stripped.