The Breeders’ Cup Classic held so much energy, that it would be hard to tell you about it if you weren’t on hand. I was watching the ballgame at home one night, and a pal of mine told me it was just so different at the game as he taped the game, and watched it again later. This was one of those occasions. They are rare, but they do happen. This was one for the ages.
A six-year-old mare going for the all-time record of 20/20 in racing was facing the boys. It was under the historic Twin Spires, and the lights were glowing softly against the backdrop of a wondrous sky. I guess that TV did not show the twilight horizon glowing with baby blue and pink (Zenyatta’s silks). It was softly glowing in the background of the starting gate, and for the first time in my life, I gave up the two horses that I thought could beat her and jumped on the bandwagon. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about winning. I had already cashed in much bigger during the day. But, all that didn’t matter…. For the first time, I wanted to buck the odds, and be a part of history. How many more times in our lives will we see a gal facing the boys in the biggest race, trying to establish the all-time winning record? I am sure it may happen, but will we see it?
Blame had a horrible race last out, and he looked great. It was one of those races that made you look smart as he went to post at 5-1. For the loyal, they would be rewarded. For the throngs of fans, they were six inches short. As a good handicapper told me, “They race to the wire.” He is right, they sure do……They don’t write races for 1 1/4 and three feet….
I am a racing purist. I love the game, and money comes and it goes. More often it goes…. But, on this day, history and fans wanted to see her come running down the hill like a train. She broke so slowly, and was so far back she looked like Silky Sullivan. It was going to be tough as she went by the first time, but I didn’t lose faith as the many were rooting and cheering for this gal to etch her name in history. When they ran down the lane, she angled out just as always and was making double strides as Blame gave her the slip. But, just as every sport has “Hail Mary’s” or “walk-off homers”, nobody had given up on her…. Not even as the lights near the wire came into focus, as this was where the money is made. Well, we all know the outcome. Blame won….
But, a little story for those who did not factor in everything. This morning in Louisville, Kentucky, a friend of mine from Vegas goes to the Waffle House each morning. On this day, so did Garrett Gomez and his lovely wife. The crowd stood and applauded, as Louisville is where horse racing holds court. It was after so many folks shook his hand and asked for a photo, that he began to tell the story. It wasn’t a well-timed ride that you may read about, or a beating that could have been predicted. This was a champion rider who stole it at the top of the lane. He knew she was coming, and for all of his power, he rode his hardest. He could feel the mare without even looking. He knew she was there….. He just put his head down, and rode his hardest praying for the wire. When he passed the finish, he looked up and asked Mike Smith aboard Zenyatta, “Did I win?” Smith said, “I think you did.” For the throngs of fans, and history that stood in the balance, the thrill was over. Blame bested her, and did a great job with one of the best riders in the world.
But, I have only one question….. If you could trade in whatever you gained for the win, would you have rather seen a once-in-a-lifetime chance where the best mare in the land beat the boys to set a historical record? For me, it was easy… I began a fan, and always will be one… I can go out today and bet Churchill, Beulah, and many others to win a few hundred dollars. But, it is highly unlikely that I will see this ever happen again in my lifetime. Congratulations, Blame and Mr. Gomez. You were the best on this day. And this was they day where it all counted. “They only race to the wire.” No truer words were spoken, but I still would have liked to have seen the world of racing celebrate a superstar for the ages…..
If you missed the race, or wanted to see it again. I found this link on the Daily Racing Form site, and it shows the race. http://www1.drf.com/replays/savedreplays.jsp?RACE=1128