Angelina Jolie has it. Justin Bieber has it. Britney Spears had it. Simon Cowell invented a show to find it: that indescribable quality that makes one stand out above their peers.
The few weeks surrounding the Kentucky Oaks and Derby are like a season of Dancing With the Stars and American Idol combined. The various survival rounds start in January and end in May, replete with careers to revive, questionable tactics, and outstanding performances that are capable of moving you to tears.
There are unlikely heroes, faltering favorites, and injuries. Sometimes a performance will leave you scratching your head and another will validate your early beliefs. And often the ones with previous experience – in this case over the track instead of dance studio or a record deal – usually have the leg up on their competition.
Here’s the Kentucky Derby field by Graded Earnings and what we believe to be their human pop culture counterparts:
Dialed In | American Idol’s Scotty McCreery / wowed the judges with unique ability in debut and hasn’t really done anything wrong and is still somewhat misunderstood by the public even though they know they like him
Archarcharch | Dancing With the Stars’ Jennifer Gray / has some experience and made a great impression early then had a few off days before rebounding in a big, show-stopping way
Comma to the Top | Dancing With the Stars’ Audrina Patridge / has a set comfort zone and took some time to break into being at best away from the norm
Pants On Fire | Dancing with the Stars’ Apolo Anton Ohno / makes up for what he lacks in grace with heart
Midnight Interlude | American Idol’s David Archuleta / started green, quickly formed own style, and proved wise beyond years
Soldat | Dancing With the Stars’ Shawn Johnson / used to moving in a certain way and had to re-train body to conform to new set of rules
Brilliant Speed | American Idol’s Jordin Sparks / has talent, no question, but benefited when early favorites were surprisingly voted off after faltering slightly
Twice the Appeal | Dancing With the Stars’ Helio Castroneves / was an unknown to most of the audience before wowing with a few key performances
Nehro | American Idol’s Jennifer Hudson / always a bridesmaid who’s just sure greatness is just around the corner
Mucho Macho Man | American Idol’s Chris Daughtry / quick to rise to the top then found himself misunderstood
Decisive Moment | Dancing With the Stars’ Drew Lachey / good early then somewhat forgotten and showed back up just in time to surprise the judges
Stay Thirsty | American Idol’s Pia Toscano / needed to break out of shell and own the stage, which may come from time in the spotlight
Santiva | American Idol’s Michael John / his sound wasn’t always perfect but when it worked, it was blue collar perfection – and he got better when he had the time to develop his own style
Watch Me Go | Dancing With the Stars’ Kendra Wilkinson / needs the situation just right to feel pretty
Twinspired | American Idol’s Lee DeWyze / people like the sound but don’t remember him