Secretariat, circa 1973
Okay, I have to admit it. My heart is lodged in my throat and it will stay there until the Belmont Stakes, the final race in the Triple Crown, is in the history books. Those who know me know that I’m a big horse racing fan, and in honor of Big Brown’s run for the Crown I just had to blog about it.
It’s been thirty years since Affirmed and Alydar battled each other in all three legs of the Triple Crown, and I watched every second with my nose pretty much pressed against the TV screen. You couldn’t drag me away. I had to watch it down to the wire and see Affirmed become only the 11th horse in history to win the Triple Crown. And ok, I had a huge crush on Affirmed’s jockey, Steve Cauthen, but that’s not what this is about. Those races were thrilling, exciting, and fantastic to watch. They still make my heart race today when I go back and watch them. To me there is just something about these magnificent animals stretching all out, hooves thundering, battling each other for the lead and ultimately the win.
But have you ever had the privilege of watching the great horse Secretariat run the 1973 Triple Crown races? I watched them again this morning on YouTube, mainly to see how Big Brown’s first two wins stack up in comparison to Secretariat’s wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and thought, hmm… Maybe?
But I also found myself, once again, watching in utter amazement and cheering on a horse who’d raced his heart out 35 years ago. By the time Secretariat had made racing history and winning the Belmont by an astounding, unheard of 31 lengths, I had tears streaming down my face. I know it sounds crazy to get so emotional about a horse race, but well, those races were incredible. Secretariat was incredible.
I’ve watched Big Brown run the first two legs, and win handily both times, and I just haven’t been able to stop wondering if we’re watching a horse here that is reminiscent of Secretariat. Granted, there will only be one Secretariat. No horse will ever fill his horseshoes. But it looks like to me that Big Brown does have the potential to place his own pair of shoes into the annuals of racing history. He is big, he’s bold, you can see he has heart, and he loves to run. And he loves to come from behind, take the lead, and then command it down to the wire. Looks very familiar.
But will it happen? Can Big Brown really do it? Ten horses in the past 30 years have won both of the first two legs of the Triple Crown only to lose the glory in the Belmont. At a mile-and-a-half, the Belmont is a long, grueling race. Sure, Big Brown has it all, but does he have enough of it all to make the trip and be first across the wire? If he does, not only will his stud fee take a huge increase, but he will firmly lock those special shoes of his in the records of not only horse racing history, but American history. Wow. It really makes me want to get cracking on the series of horse racing romances I’ve been wanting to write.
What do you think? Will Big Brown win the Triple Crown? Or will 2008 be one more year of almost, but not quite?