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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Belief of Four Legs

Lessons Learned from a Race Horse

So this weekend was one of the final legs to the Kentucky Derby. Horses must either win one of the “lead in “ races or have enough earnings to even be considered for THE Derby of all Derby’s – The Kentucky Derby.

Only 20 horses actually get the chance to race at famous Churchill Downs on that spring day. The horses start preparing for this event from the moment they are born. Actually, before they were born. Breeding is thought to be incredibly crucial to discovering the next Derby winner and hopefully the next Triple Crown. Horseman (and woman of course) spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on fine tuning their bloodlines to create the best racing prospect the world has ever seen.

Yearlings are sold, many at Keeneland, for hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions. Owners put time and money into training, just hoping their horse will be the one. Until they have loaded the gates with the competitors, jockeys tense waiting for the gates to open, owners standing at attention rubbing their rabbit’s foot for good luck, most owners are sure they made wise investments. Until the bell sounds and the jolt of the starting gates break open, every owner, trainers, and patron of the betting windows are sure they hold the winning combination to it all.

But then as the race is being ran, things begin to change. Jockeys sometimes allow a horse to run too hard in the beginning, just to find they have no gas at the end. Other times, a horse is pinned out, stuck in traffic as they call it, unable to break free from the pack and race as hard as they could have. Still other times, tragic accidents happen where although the horse maybe ok, it can never race again. In those special instances, we discover why horse racing is called a gamble.

But then there are moments that make everyone believe in Miracles. A long shot comes out of nowhere and wins it all. Some of these horses have become famous. Their stories made into motion pictures, bringing in block buster ticket sales.

Sure those are the ones you know about, Secretariat, Phar Lap, even said to be the greatest horse to ever run the race Man o’ War. But now a’ days, with all of our distractions we have lost our American passion for the sport of horse racing. Day to day things keep us from appreciating the amazing art and talent of trainer, jockey, breeder, animal as well as the God Neptune himself.

It is time we change that. This past weekend a horse race took place in Kentucky, which the winner was guaranteed a seat at the Kentucky Derby’s table. The odds were stacked, commentators made their predictions and then the race was ran. It was a beautiful race, including a horse who was my favorite, Odysseus. The problem was Odysseus, along with most of the horses didn’t live up to the expectations of their trainers or fans. But as they say, someone has to win. He was the little horse that could- a horse that had one only one race prior to becoming the next contender for the most talked about race ran at Churchill. Stately Victor went off at 40-1 odds at the break and was in the back for much of the race. Then when it mattered most, he made his move.

In my opinion, his timing couldn’t have been better. You see, he isn’t one of those high priced horses that sold at Keeneland. He is a horse that won because he had the heart to win. Sure, everyone is already saying it isn’t possible for him to actually be a contender in the derby. A little horse named Eskendereya is the heavy favorite May 1st, winning his last couple of races by over five lengths. True, he could win it, or maybe even take the Triple Crown.

But for me, I believe a horse race is a lot like life, it isn’t over until the finish line- and who knows, anything can happen. Wouldn’t it be great to have a little horse that could win it all? A little horse that decided it was time to win – did? No matter who was worth more, or what his breeding said, a winner because he believed? I love an underdog story, it is true, call me a sucker, but then again, what a great lesson for us all- anything is possible- you just gotta get out of the starting gate.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring is in the Air...

Sometimes this time of year, I decide I should start gardening. You know, put my hands in the dirt, and feel the earth’s life force fall through my fingers. Plant something. Anything.

I usually head to the local farm and garden store, pick out 80 packs of seeds, head home with a hope of an abundant harvest.

About the time the garage door comes to a close, I remember I hate to garden. I want my yard to look like I enjoy it, I want pretty flowers and happy little trees, but I don’t want to actually do the work. I married a Japanese man for that very reason. I don’t want to get into the dirt. I am a water sign, not an earth sign. I prefer cleaning floors to cleaning flower beds.

So this year, I decided to be proactive. I refuse to allow myself to run over the brim with unfiltered enthusiasm. I won’t allow myself to buy into the idea of work that will never be…

I vow to only purchase the plants my husband can handle….and maybe just a couple I could plant…Just a few….