Saturday, September 13, 2008

This Is Why

This is why Starr Ann and I can't bring ourselves to abandon horseracing. This is why we still hold out hope that, at least in this small corner of human dominance over the rest of ... well, of everything natural, some equity and honor may at last emerge. All we humans have to do is follow the lead, and pay attention to the animals.

For anyone who actually knew what they were looking at, today's Monmouth Stakes was a once in a lifetime sight to behold. Big Brown, a three-year-old with a fantastic resume, but a three-year-old nonetheless, beat a seasoned field of multiple Grade I stakes winners, on the second turf race of his life. The boy not only won, but - and I cannot emphasize this too much - he wired the field (meaning he broke on the lead and never relinquished it through the entire race) under a hand ride from Kent Desormeaux, his jockey.

Let me tell you why this is so exciting. This race was like throwing an extremely talented college basketball player in with a bunch of the best the NBA can offer, and having him come out as most valuable player.

Now let me tell what this means to all of us who love racing but hate what the racing industry often does to horses. Kent Desormeaux, to his great credit, did not hit Big Brown when he was tested in the stretch run of today's race. He urged, he pushed, he used everything his body had to tell the colt there were competitors breathing down on their necks, but he didn't go to the whip to secure a spectacular daylight win. Instead, Desormeaux let Big Brown's natural desire to stay out front win the race. BB dug in, and would be damned if a another horse would pass him today. That's greatness. That's the difference between the kind of creature that's merely satisfied to ride the Earth for one more revolution each day, and the kind that shows up to excel at what his instincts tell him he's good at.

Horseracing has a long way to go, but steroids are on their way out, the use of whips is being severely challenged, and trainers who've shown themselves to be less than honest are having horses jerked from their barns by owners who are finally waking up.

Today, Big Brown gave a glimpse of what racing could be - no whips, pure love of running. And you know, vision is the first step to reality. If you're innerested, the race is at: