In my previous post, I mentioned the necessity of picking at least one favorite horse in every race for the purpose of giving yourself something to cheer for and making your racing experience stupendously enjoyable.
Well, my friends, that was merely the beginning.
The next logical step in your evolution as a racing devotee is to select a horse that has caught your eye and follow him beyond the one day you saw him run. You now pursue his career through all of the races he enters at different tracks and against different opponents because you like his swag. Ah ha! This is where racing starts to look more and more like the other sports you follow, where you have a favorite team for which you are rabidly (and sometimes misguidedly) passionate and whom you watch travel the country encountering different foes with varying degrees of success.
But racing is way more awesome because you don’t waste an entire Sunday waiting for the results. Two minutes and you’re back to watching “Real Housewives” ... er … CNN. Just sayin’. And with that, I give you the following tale of how I picked my current beloved steed.
On May 21, 2011, two very significant events occurred.* The first occasion of note was my successful orchestration of possibly the only wedding in history to go off without even the slightest complication. My mother and I didn’t kill each other, the groom and his entourage made it to the ceremony on time, and everybody ate, drank, danced un-rhythmically and had a spectacular evening at the reception. Including my 6’4” father-in-law, who, through a combination of bourbon, excitement and an undying love for “the twist,” danced until he toppled over backward like a wayward redwood and rolled around on the ground like an upended turtle until some kind soul helped him to his feet.
The second important happening of that day was when Shackleford won the Preakness Stakes (G1). You see, I had picked him to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) two weeks before and was disappointed when he was overtaken in the home stretch only to come in fourth after coming out of the gate like a red, four-legged cannonball. I had surprised myself by picking him in the first place because I typically don’t like pacesetters. These horses are more likely to give me heart palpitations while they run with a target on their back, attempting to stave off the rest of the field for the duration of the race. However, it was from that unsuccessful performance that I immediately concluded that the big white-faced chestnut would take the Preakness by storm. I was certain of it. My logic was thus: Shack would have won the Derby if it were a shorter race; the Preakness is a shorter race; Shack will win the Preakness. Call me the queen of deductive reasoning.
Sadly, I had no chance to put my money where my mouth was, or to even watch my boy do as I had predicted, because I was too busy committing to love one man for the rest of my life no matter what kind of crazy he might pull on me 50 years down the road.
I do, however, vaguely recollect at some point during the reception, where events are blurred in my memory due to the diligent wait staff making sure my vodka tonic never dropped below 50%, someone coming up to me and saying, “You called it! Shackleford won!” and I was like, “And you know this!” And (I am guessing) fist-pumped with pride. Then I was distracted by cake. Nevertheless, ever since he won the Preakness on my wedding day, the horse has held a special place in my heart and I have followed his career, which, though by no means perfect, has thankfully thus far shown longevity.
My man Shack is entered in the Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile (G1), and you know I will be putting my money on number 6 to go wire to wire with nary a speck of dirt grazing his fuzzy white nose. This Saturday, I will have the opportunity to be out in the sunshine at “The Great Race Place,” dressed in my finest, hollering and flailing my arms like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert when the gates open for the sixth race. Maybe I’ll even bet a few dollars extra to make up for my missed opportunity last spring.
Anyway, the moral of the story is: there is no right or wrong way to pick a horse to bet on. Just be sure to pick one you like so that a year and a half later you can put your money on the same handsome, pacesetting beast that you would have bet on in the Preakness had you not been strutting down the aisle in a gorgeous Amsale couture wedding gown that your father repeatedly stepped on while escorting you to your destiny.
* There was actually the potential for three, where some zealot preacher had predicted that day to be the apocalypse, but thankfully he was mistaken.