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The Power of the Horse

I was looking for something on the interwebs last night and I noticed this picture of Zenyatta at Churchill Downs, in her final race. We've all (most of us I figure) have seen that race, and I think that's a marvelous picture - her losing contact with the field, the sky, what everyone was thinking at that time.

After posting it I got about five retweets and twelve or fifteen comments, most from people who don't follow me, and who I don't follow. That mare was, in my opinion, the first social media horse in racing history. She lives on today in that same vein. I believe if a Zenyatta picture is posted in ten years, the interactive result would be the same.

It got me thinking: Great athletes get us interested in a sport that we've never watched. I remember being a kid and watching Bjorn Borg battle John McEnroe for the first time - I was interested in tennis. Earl Campbell, running over linebackers like they were feathers, got me interested in football in a big way. Goose Gossage got me interested in closers in baseball, and I knew every closer of that generation like the back of my hand.

How many people were introduced to Zenyatta via Facebook, twitter, youtube and social media of all types? How many have at least watched one race since that time? I bet quite a few.

What horse was it for me? I remember succinctly: Spectacular Bid. I was too young for the other big names before him, but he was right in my wheelhouse. I remember seeing (I think it was) a Sports Illustrated cover at a friends house on the big colt, and immediately wanted to watch his next race. I did. For harness racing, coincidentally, it was the same magazine, at the same friend's house: The Mighty Niatross was on the cover.

Sports Illustrated introduced me to Bid, I liked him, and I became a fan of the Triple Crown series at a young age. Ditto with Niatross.

How were you introduced to a horse?What horse was it?


Tinky said…
Ah, Earl Campbell...

Many consider the greatest fullbacks of all-time to be Jim Brown, Bronco Nagurski, and Marion Motley. They were way ahead of my time, and I won't dispute Brown's exalted status. But aside from him, I have my doubts that there was ever a better fullback than Campbell, and I am confident that there has never been as potent a mix of speed and awesome power. Poor Isiah Robinson. But I digress.

My passion for horse racing was not ignited by a single horse, but rather through the rich experience of attending the races at local Chicago area tracks in the early 1970s, and all of the attendant memories.

Waiting at the Main St. Newsstand for the Racing Form to be delivered the night before the races. The paper sellers, positioned just inside the entrance to Arlington Park, hawking the Sun-Times (Dave Feldman), Tribune (Elmer Polzin), and "The World's Greatest Little Newspaper", the Green Sheet.

The colorful, individually printed tickets, and the rubber bands supplied by the tellers when the customer purchased enough of them in one trip to the window to create a small packet.

Illinois-bred runners by Zen, a son of Damascus, and the only Ill-bred stallion of any real note ever. Earlie Fires and Pat Day, invariably one-two in the riders standings, and long before the latter became a household name.

I could go on, but you get the idea.
Bob said…
For thoroughbreds, it was Kelso..

Standardbreds, Meadow Skipper, Tarquinius and Speedy Scot…

And hundreds of obscurities like Jerry Shanon, Grateful Vic, Table Hopper etc that I bet regularly..

Spectacular Bid was great,,,

Better than Secretariat, Seattle Slew or Affirmed, hard to say for sure but he was with them.

Ruffian best ever mare till Zenyatta…
Tinky said…
oops! Should have read "Isiah Robertson".

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