Once upon a time horse racing was a very big deal in our country.
Then again, so were Model Ts and radios as big as refrigerators.
Now most folks only pay attention to the Triple Crown races.
And if if a horse doesn’t win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, those fans drop out quicker than Timothy Leary used to drop acid.
Now another horse has a Triple Crown opportunity squarely aligned in the cross hairs of destiny.
A withered horse racing community craves another Triple Crown winner more than its next breath, thinking it will resuscitate its shrunken industry.
It won’t, but that is a narrative for another day.
The wheel in the sky has kept on turning for 37 years since we last had a Triple Crown. Bruce Jenner still was a stud back then.
Tomorrow American Pharoah, who runs better than his owner spells, seeks to become the first horse since 1978 and the 12th ever to sweep the Triple Crown series.
Thirteen horses since 1978 came to Belmont Park with a chance to reach horse racing immortality and all 13 left without the biggest crown in the Sport of Kings.
The Unlucky 13.
The whip of such devastating failure comes down and leaves an everlasting welt on the hearts and minds who make horsing racing their lives and their living.
Those heartbreaking losses haul smiles of hope away with cruel dispatch.
Seven horses have been entered against American Pharoah. Five of these challengers chased him in the Derby; then skipped the Preakness to rest up.
Past Triple Crown aspirants have been weakened by the grind of the Triple Crown, draining their tanks.
A sense of foreboding flicks its snake’s tongue in the faces of all us who would love to see another Triple Crown.
American Pharoah is the only horse this year to run in all three races of the series. He will be making his third start in five weeks, his fourth in eight weeks.
But perhaps fatigue won’t cripple his legs. Those were the only four times he has raced this year. He has had only one stressful race, the Kentucky Derby.
However, there is another critical concern burrowing worry lines into the weathered face of Bob Baffert, the trainer of American Pharoah.
The Belmont is a long distance trek of 1.5 miles, not the relative sprint the Derby and the Preakness are. Good sprinters usually don’t make good milers and vice versa.
It takes a versatile animal to sweep the Triple Crown, one with fleet feet and a deep reservoir of stamina.
Here’s hoping that oodles of horse racing enthusiasts will be sporting an aurora borealis of a smile tomorrow evening.
Myself included. And I’ve never ridden or bet on a horse in my life.