25 October 2008

Serendipity and redemption

All week, I felt I was missing something.

I decided a while back that I was not going to wager on the Breeders' Cup and instead donate my bankroll to Rerun, therefore, I did not handicap any of the races(Except for the Turf Sprint which Desert code won at 36-1....Dammit). I made a cursory study of the races and left it at that.

In that decision, I found something I never knew I lost.

I am not an emotionally expressive man; Mrs. Not Really might sprinkle her characterization of me with phrases like stunted, emotionally bankrupt and heart encased in ice. So handicapped, I watched the last two days with no pecuniary bias.

There is something about watching the purity of the expression without the taint of rapacity. It frees one from the usual selfish obsessions and allows for the visceral pleasures derived from the inherent nobility of the horse.

They are oblivious to the melodrama that surrounds them. They don't care about ADW disputes or name change boycotts. They run because we ask them to and they endure untold pain, just to fulfill that promise we made for them.

These last two days, as is the case every other day of the year, countless tickets will be torn and scattered to the wind, chasing the wake of their patronized manifestation and following in that vortex will be the curses and remonstrances of the betting losers. Few, if any, will care about the horse or the people closely tied to it.

When Muhannak won the Marathon, his trainer, Ralph Beckett, had to walk away from the interview, so overcome with emotion was he. When Eurico da Silva came back, after finishing second in the Sprint, all he could say was 'I love this horse.' Jerry Moss choked up during his interview after Zanyatta dominated her race and the ever cool Bob Baffert was visibly moved after his two scores.

These are men with money and success. They have won big races before and witnessed racing greatness and they are not inured to the beauty that is the running horse.

I found, in the last two days, the reason we argue about the big days and watch the Tuesday nightcap with equal consistency.

Because in that stampede past the quarter pole we all hold our breath and are witness to the purest representation of the will to win. Whether they hit the board or not, every single one of those animals is out there because it is what they love to do.

After the sun sets and the handle is counted the debate will rage regarding the success of the event and the Horse of the Year. I might join the fight but not today.

Because after this weekend, to steal from The Refreshments, I felt the stirrings of that cold black, soul of mine, come alive.


Anonymous said...

I too found unexpected pleasure in watching without wagering. Without worrying about bets and how my NYRA account was doing, it was possible to cheer every horse, every finish. There was something pure and fun in that and I ended the day feeling less like a cynical horseplayer and more like a happy fan. That was nice. Of course, I'll be back to the former tomorrow ...

Nellie said...

Isn't it nice? I don't bet, and there's something about being able to just enjoy the show. If I had to worry about whether I'd be eating the next day or not, I don't think I'd be enjoying it. Just sweating bullets.

Of course, there are a lot of "oh my God, I would have won WHAT?!?" moments...

SaratogaSpa said...

Maybe you should sent this to the people who think Horse racing should never be marketed as a "sport". I am not naive and understand gambling is the wheel that turns the industry of racing, but I have always loved the Sport aspect of racing.

I always call the horses "athletes" because to me that is what they are.

Anonymous said...

That's why I watch horse racing, and that's why I don't wager.
Well put.

rather rapid said...

yes, well said!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant as always.

You're generous with both your blogposts and your bankroll.

I have to say that Eurico's moment was pretty touching. He's a very genuine person and you can see the joy on his face with each win, regardless of purse. Woodbine was lit up during the sprint and we were all yelling encouragement down the stretch.

I can't wait till next year's event...and based on this year's results, maybe Kerry is on to something.

Anonymous said...

Five winners and some close ones----you can bet my P6 anytime!!!

Great pickin'

The Bid

The Bid
Greatest horse ever to look through a bridle