Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mine That Bird

I believe it was my son’s grad party and we had fifty or so people out in Susie’s garage or mingling in the yard, then forty and thirty. The number kept dwindling. No one was leaving the party. Rather, they were ambling inside waiting for the opening bell when the gates would open... "And they're off!" I had brought the TV up and put it on the dining room table for Cassie and a few others, which turned out to be half the party.

It's been called the fastest two minutes in sports. Don't take a potty break or you'll miss it.

Yesterday’s winner was the long shot, Mine That Bird. Whether you’re into horse racing or not, who doesn’t love the names? Entering the weekend there were four favorites for yesterday's Run for the Roses: I Want Revenge, Pioneer of the Nile, Friesan Fire and Dunkirk. I Want Revenge was scratched the morning of the race so we only had nineteen contenders.

At 50-1 Mine That Bird was supposedly just there to fill out the field. Surprise! At the finish, Pioneer of the Nile took second, and Musket Man third. Mine That Bird went from dead last to first. Other names I liked from yesterday’s field included Chocolate Candy, Papa Clem, West Side Bernie, Hold Me Back and Mr. Hot Stuff.

Kentucky Derby Trivia
I’ve never owned a horse but I did own a horse racing game as a kid. The tan colored horse was named Tim Tam.

The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is considered the greatest achievement in horse racing. The last horse to accomplish this was Affirmed in 1978.

Seattle Slew is the only Triple Crown winner who never lost a race.

The eleven horses that have won the Triple Crown are...

Affirmed 1978
Seattle Slew 1977
Secretariat 1973
Citation 1948
Assault 1946
Count Fleet 1943
Whirlaway 1941
War Admiral 1937
Omaha 1935
Gallant Fox 1930
Sir Barton 1919

War Admiral was the powerful horse defeated by Seabiscuit in 1937 in the film and book by the same title. It's a great book, well-researched and rich with details showing both the grit and glory of horse racing.

Horse Racing Hall of Famer Eddie Arcaro was the only jockey to ride two different horses to the Triple Crown: Whirlaway and Citation. He rode five horses to the winner’s circle in the Kentucky Derby. I liked Eddie Arcaro as a kid because his name was Eddie.

The place where the Kentucky Derby is run each spring is called Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby is nicknamed the Run for the Roses.

It was at the 1970 Kentucky Derby where artist Ralph Steadman met Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson who was doing a story for Esquire magazine.

Of the 37,939 thoroughbreds eligible for the Kentucky Derby this year, only 20 participated, or rather, 19 after I Want Revenge was scratched.

My brother’s wife Rosemarie was there at Churchill Downs in 1973 when Secretariat won the Derby in the fastest time ever, a record that stands to this day. Her sister took her to the Big Race as a high school grad present. Their infield seats on the fourth turn weren't the greatest, but the experience was rich with memories as Rosemarie had bet on both Secretariat and Sham, the 1-2 finishers.

To celebrate their good fortune, they proceeded to the Preakness (at Pimlico, in Marlyland) and once more placed bets on Secretariat and Sham, who again finished 1-2. A short time after they took in the third jewel of the crown, the Belmont Stakes, where they once more put money on Secretariat and Sham. Sham failed to deliver while Secretariat gave the performance of a lifetime, tearing away from the field to win by 31 lengths, and still accelerating! What an incredible horse, and a wonderful set of graduation memories for Rosemarie. Don't you wish you coulda been there?

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