On May 20, 2006 - Preakness Day - our stable had a new horse making his first pari-mutuel start as a three year old at Georgian Downs, in beautiful cottage country. He had qualified alright, and we were all kind of excited (anyone who has ever had a yearling knows what I am talking about). I try and watch all of the Triple Crown races in front of my trusty computer and TV with my betting account open, but that day it took a backseat. It was a great spring day, nice and sunny, so I rolled up early to have dinner and watch the Preakness before watching 'Dominique' take on his foes in the Georgian second race.
I walked into a crowded eatery near the track around 6PM, ordered some food and a pint of Coors Light. The sound was down but that was ok, I could still see the race. A few people who were not fans asked the usual questions like "what race is this", "who is going to win" and so on. As I do in those situations I dutifully explained that Barbaro had won the Derby, he was owned and trained by great people, and most of racing were pulling for him to win leg two of the Triple. After that I set in to watch. Not having bet the race, I was just hoping Barbaro would win.
Then we all know what happened.
With a deer-in-the-headlights look I headed to the track to see our guy. On the way there, I was like I usually am when I see a horse in distress like that - completely bummed out.
In 2007 and in 2008 before the Preakness I thought about that day, like it was yesterday. The Preakness and Barbaro were to be forever intertwined, I thought. This year though, it was different. I did not think about Barbaro, my trip to Georgian Downs and how awful I felt. I thought of the filly against the colts, Mine That Bird and respect, who would win, and would we see something special. It takes a special story or a special event to snap us out of the past, I find. This year, at least for me, we had that.
I will never forget Barbaro, as his story represents everything that is being a horse racing fan. But memories fade, and new memories are made. This year I have a good memory. I hope from now on I will think of this Preakness when looking back in time, until the next great story comes along.
Three years ago it was a terrible day to be a racing fan. This year, all was right in the world.
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