Rewatching DuckTales! We’re running for the roses in episode 34, “Horse Scents.”
It’s the Kentucky Derby, and Scrooge enters his racehorse Cash Register against rival Glomgold’s horse Make-a-Buck. Nearby, Webby befriends failed racehorse, the awkward and klutzy Milady. Milady’s owner is in debt to a local crook, Bull Weevil, so Webby and Huey, Dewey, and Louie concoct a plan to enter Milady in the Derby.
That night, Glimgold’s henchmen try and fail to kidnap (horsenap?) Scrooge’s horse. Webby attempts to train Milady for the race, while hiding her from Bull Weevil. Although clumsy, Milady demonstrates superhuman (superhorse?) speed when Mrs. Beakeley plays a variation of the Kentucky Derby fanfare on her bugle.
On the day of the race, Milady and Webby take their place at the starting line next to Cash Register and Make-a-Buck. Although Milady starts far behind, she takes off like a rocket whenever she hears the bugle. A man in the stands takes away the bugle, but then the three nephews trick Bull Weevil into yelling into a microphone, spurring Milady into greater speed. Milady stops to pose for a photo just before crossing the finish line, so Scrooge and Glomgold’s horses tie the race (!). Scrooge arranges for Milady and her owner to start their own business, where tourists can have their pictures taken with her.
Humbug: As soon as Scrooge discovers that Webby is a jockey in the race, Scrooge stops caring about winning and he’s all about getting her to safety. This leans into my thesis that DuckTales is about Scrooge learning his family is more important than his wealth.
Junior Woodchucks: The nephews deploy a Junior Woodchucks special disguise plan, which is just to put on Groucho Marx glasses. I guess they can’t all be winners.
Maid and maiden: Webby’s main skill continues to be befriending various creatures, although Milady seemed plenty friendly to begin with. We can add bugling to Mrs. Beakeley’s list of skills.
Foul fowls: Bull Weevil isn’t much of a villain, just a loudmouthed bully. More interesting are Glomgold’s weasel henchmen, who are almost the same design as the weasels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Glomgold’s weasels are named Shifty and Shifty’s Pal (?) while the weasels from Roger Rabbit are named Greasy, Smarty, Wheezy, Psycho, and Stupid.
Reference row: Founded in 1875, the Kentucky Derby is held each year in May at the famous Churchill Downs racetrack. The Derby’s famous bugle fanfare is known as, simply, “First Call” or “Call to the Post.” It’s an old Navy tune, with different meanings depending on what time of day it is played. In racing, it’s a signal for all horses to proceed to the starting line, and that no more bets can be placed.
Thoughts on this viewing: The Disney wiki devotes only two sentences to this episode, rather than the usual trivia-a-thon, which is telling. It’s amusing enough, but I’m left with a real nothing-happened-here feeling.
Next: What a bunch of lemmings.
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