Horse Race

OK, bear with me. This isn’t exactly about what you think it’s going to be about.

I’ve watched the Triple Crown races as long as I can remember. For anyone who doesn’t know, a horse named Big Brown is poised to be the first horse in 30 years to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. It’s a big deal, although to be fair, he’s the 3rd horse in about 8 years to have won the first two; a lot of times, things go wrong for them in the Belmont.

But this is about something else.

Remember Secretariat?

He was possibly the greatest racehorse of all time. He won the Triple Crown in 1973 and set records in all three races, including one in the Belmont that will probably stand as long as any of us will live. But what most people don’t know is that among the field of horses he beat over and over was a racehorse named Sham.

Any other year, Sham probably would have won the Triple Crown himself. He had beaten Secretariat once before the Kentucky Derby (although Secretariat had an abscessed lip and was running a fever at the time). He was a great contender. He led the field briefly in the Derby before Secretariat, who had been dead last, came up and outran them all. After the race, it was discovered that Sham had knocked out two teeth coming out of the gate, so he wasn’t at his best when he lost, either.

In the Preakness, Sham was out in front again, and Secretariat came from last place like a rocket. He passed the entire field of seven horses in fourteen seconds. I’ve watched it on YouTube and it’s such an incredible performance it almost looks staged.

By the time they got to the Belmont, these two horses had fought it out for the lead twice already. Both had outstanding records; both had expert jockeys; both had that competitiveness that’s so humanizing in racehorses.

I can only imagine what they must have been thinking, going into the gate at the Belmont, seeing each other again, each knowing the other was the real competition.

Sham: I’m not going to lose to him again after coming so close.

Secretariat: How many times am I going to have to beat this guy?

They both went right for the lead in the last race, neck and neck for what seems a long time on a grainy video clip. Then Secretariat pulls away, slowly at first, then lengthening and lengthening his lead. It’s one of the most jaw-dropping athletic feats I’ve ever seen: he leaves Sham and the entire field behind by thirty-one lengths. It’s almost a sixteenth of a mile.

Sham, physically and probably psychically devastated, finished last.

Any other year, he almost surely would have won it all. But he just happened to be running at the same time as an incredible competitor. It was terrible luck for him: both horses were winners, had competitor’s hearts, had run with injuries, had fought it out for the lead almost all the way.

If it hadn’t been Secretariat’s year, it would have been Sham’s. He was good enough — he just met up with a champion.

I am a Barack Obama supporter (I was a John Edwards supporter, to be honest), but at times I have felt absolutely wretched for Hillary Clinton. I bet she feels like Sham. Any other year, any other (less badly run) campaign, and I would have been honored to vote for her. Hell, if she’d won the nomination, I would have.

She just happened to meet up with a champion.

When Secretariat died, and a veterinarian performed his necropsy, he was stunned to find that the horse literally had the biggest heart he’d ever seen. It wasn’t malformed or abnormally enlarged, it was just much bigger than the normal equine heart.

The same vet, it turns out, performed the necropsy when Sham died. And Sham had the second biggest heart he’d ever seen. Second only, of course, to Secretariat’s.




20 Responses to “Horse Race”

  1. Terrific post — spot on!

  2. You’re so gracious. I’m all BOOYAH!

    I need to get a life and stop hatin’ on Hillary so much. Or mebbe not.

  3. bigcocky Says:

    I hate Sham. That horse ahould’ve resigned for the good of the race.

  4. Daners Isadora a.k.a. Busty St. Clair Says:

    This post, right here, made me fall in lurve with you all over again.

  5. Anners Scribonia Says:

    Tigereye that was a brill analogy. Damn.

    Do you think Hillary raced herself out of a V.P. slot, though? She said some damaging things about Obama that I don’t think will bode well come November. I wish she had held her tongue a wee bit during this campaign so that I could love her again. Methinks she totally knew she was going to win so it didn’t matter what she said about her opponent. That freaks me out because I think that prospective leaders of the free world should have some humility. Also that speech she made on Tuesday was all sorts of creepy.

    And why am I rambling on so? Because I am having life issues.


  6. tigereye Says:

    Anners, I dunno if I want her for VP. I think the way she ran her campaign, and the way she talked about VP earlier, makes it impossible for Obama to choose her, and if he does he’ll feel like JFK saddled with a guy he didn’t like. I also think it’s Edwards’s job, frankly. But you said something I really liked, too: I want to love Hillary and Bill again, damn it. I feel like I’ve been cheated on by two people I revered.

  7. pandemonic Says:


  8. I’m not sure how I feel about Hillary being VP. I’m glad she’s out of the race though.

  9. Edwards would be great! I don’t think he wants to do it, though.
    Hillary and Bill done us real bad. 😦

    Obama should appoint his wife as VP. Just kidding.

  10. tigereye Says:

    I like her — I don’t have the same affinity for her that I did for Hillary all those years ago, but then Michelle has a much lower profile. I like their relationship — I get the feeling she bosses Barack a little, but if he’s like most guys he could probably use a little bossing.

    If not Edwards, I vote for Jim Webb of VA, and Hillary for Sec. of State or HHS.
    It would be so much easier if Barack would just leave all this to me!

  11. I don’t know Jim Webb! Is he related to Veronica Webb? Ok, prob not. I guess I shall do some research on him. Perhaps Barack should appoint you to the VP committee he has going on right now. I heard it’s not going so well.

  12. Brilliant olive branch, Tigereye.
    Makes me proud of you. 😉

  13. tigereye Says:

    Thanks, Shawn!

  14. I think about this stuff often–it’s like Amadeus, kwim? Or being a roundballer during Jordan’s years, or a golfer now–I heard today that your namesake is taking the rest of the season off, and imagined a barfull of PGA tour members getting blasted and high-fiving each other.

    I am not into politics, I gave it up for Lent many years ago and never picked the habit back up again. But it’s an amazing thing when someone does what they’re designed for, even when the going’s straight uphill and they know there’s more than a small chance the gate to the top is locked.

  15. Tigereye, great post.

    Anners, your reply on “that freaks me out because I think that prospective leaders of the free world should have some humility. ” I think you’re on the right track with that comment… and this is why Obama came out on top. I feel that Hillary had the heart when she began, but lost it somewhere a long the way.

    I still think that Bill Richardson would be a great running-mate for Obama, but I’m probably totally nuts. I do like the idea of John Edwards, though.

  16. tigereye Says:

    You know, Bill Richardson just bores the very life out of me. I think Obama’s going to have to have someone arguably as dynamic as Hillary if he doesn’t pick her, and except, of course, for Gore, whom I still love, I can’t think who it would be aside from Webb or Edwards.

    I’m sure Bill R. is a nice guy. I just bet you have to drink a lot of coffee to be around him much.

    LFC, thanks for stopping by even though I know politics aren’t your thing — I bet I’d be a happier person if it wasn’t mine. And I’d get more sleep instead of lying awake at night worrying…

  17. Well, I drink entirely too much caffeine, so this is probably why I can listen to him. 🙂 Edwards is dynamic enough to be his running mate, IMHO, without taking the spotlight off my main man.

    I am addicted to trying to figure out the politcal machine. It’s a tough thing to work for the government, though, and experience it first-hand. It drives me freakin’ bonkers!

  18. tigereye Says:

    I think it’s a good thing I don’t work for the government — if I involved myself any deeper in events like these I’d never get anything done and never have any sleep. It’s fascinating enough as a spectator sport!

  19. “You got to have heart / milesandmilesandmiles of heart. . .” 🙂

  20. film gratuit,films gratuits,film streaming, series, film online…

    […]Horse Race « Tigereye's Den[…]…

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