by Steve Lancaster 6/7/15
There was a horse race today, most of you may have heard of it, and many of you watched it. American Pharaoh completed the third race of the racing Triple Crown with his impressive win in the Belmont. His owner, trainer and jockey will take justifiable kudos for their evaluation of his talent, training and placement in the three races. Bettors all over the world will collect their winnings and say, “ I knew he was the one to break a 38 year streak”.
American Pharaoh joins an elite group of the finest athletes of American sports from Sir Barton in 1919 to today only 13 of the greatest have won the Triple Crown. It was eleven years from Sir Barton to the next winner, Gallant Fox in 1930 then through the 30s and 40s Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation and then a 25-year gap to Secretariat, in my opinion the greatest athlete of the 20th century. More great horses followed in the 70s Seattle Slew, Affirmed anyone who has memory cannot forget the racing rivalry of Affirmed and Alydar.
Today there is a new horse at the top of horse racing. We should be grateful for we have been witness to something special. All of the trappings of racing, the fans, bettors, touts, hangers on, trainers, owners, and jockeys are irrelevant even the Triple Crown for it is the horses that make this a singular example of life well lived.
I suppose at some level the horses know the excitement, even the thrill of the race, but at its basic level they are doing what they are bred to do, run. Run with the wind in their face, the crowd. The noise the acclaim of horsemen all over the world is nothing to the horses even those who finish last. Tonight American Pharaoh will return to his stall knowing only that it is clean and he has a good meal of oats. The glory of the moment is at best peripheral to his understanding. He does, I believe, know that he got to do what he loves to do, what he was born to do. How many of us can sleep tonight with the same knowledge?
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