Sunday, November 1, 2009

Big Hats Off!!

I'm not a gambler. Well, except for sports gambling. I love it. Putting a little bit of your money down, ready, set, go, and then cheering your pick on to victory. It takes some savvy sports knowledge sometimes, but mostly it doesn't. Your starting QB gets injured. It might rain or snow. Your team loses the coin toss. There are always sure bets, of course, but why bet on those? Your odds are so high, there's no pay off. And we all want the pay off. We all want the feel good story. Like that horse from the quiet barn in the backstretch. Mine That Who??

I subscribe to SI. The best time of year for issues is the fall (NFL!), March (NCAA Madness!) and May (NHL playoffs!). What I like, though, about having a subscription is that I have read about so many sports I wouldn't normally. And the photography is fantastic.

And so it was, in the second week of May this year, that I read the remarkable story of a horse and his brave jockey. I was energized! I wanted to name everything in sight, Mine That Bird (including my friend's unborn child due the next month). Mine That Bird became synonymous with beating the odds, taking every chance you've got and showing everyone that you can win. I started looking up the Triple Crown races wondering what it would be like to attend one. The following month, a friend of mine in England dressed up with a group of her friends and went to the Royal Ascot. Her pictures were fantastic! I thought, why don't we all do this? Why is horse racing not on the map of the fabulously cool sporting events to attend? I say bring back the hats! Bring back the ties! Bring back the watch fobs! It's all so glamorous. Look beautiful, drink champagne, make your bets, and yell at the track!! My idea of a good time.

Then came the story of Rachel Alexandra (I'll save that one for another time) and I was hooked on horse racing writing! I read another story by Tim Layden, the author of the original Mine That Bird article, that had me fascinated about the Triple Crowns and what it takes to get all the goods.

The idea, that preparation and writing about the races is harder than other sports because you can't talk to the horses, is interesting. It adds to my wonderment of why we don't watch the races more. It is the ultimate betting thrill isn't it? You can't control at least one half of the equation. You can't ask the horses how they're feeling in pre-race interviews. The horse's popularity doesn't depend on which celebrity he's dating, what kind of car he drives, or which couture line he wears. The horse doesn't ask for more money. He just gets out on the track and does his job. (We can all think of a few athletes we wish would do the same).

It will be my new sports resolution for 2010: watch more horse racing. Maybe even attend a Triple Crown one of these days. I can think of a few country girls who'd go with me. I might even get them all in big hats. And I'll put my money on the two spires horse.

If you want to read the oringinal Tim Layden article about Mine That Bird, you can see it here

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