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?