Digging Deep, Being Great

It was almost seven years ago. I was at Mohawk and the great Somebeachsomewhere was racing in the Simcoe Stakes. He didn't seem to be quite himself on the racetrack, but as per usual, he fired to the lead and then grinded to the 3/4's like a 1-9 shot should. But a funny thing happened. He was starting to wilt. As the finish line drew closer his margin grew smaller, but he reached it in time.

After the race the horse was immediately scoped. Something was likely amiss, and it was; his lungs were full of mucous. Some horses are so good, so tough, and so great, they win when they should not. They hang around when others would be long beaten. The Beach was one of those horses.

Photo Courtesy someone who loves horse racing
Today in the Travers Stakes, American Pharoah was beaten. It was his fifth trip across the country. He fought through a Triple Crown series, and in at least one of those races he certainly was not at his best. He had a relatively short break after his win in the Haskell. He was racing at the graveyard of favorites. Maybe this was expected. But how it happened showed us a lot about this colt.

At the half, Pharoah looked nothing really like Pharoah. Rider Victor Espinoza was starting to ask, with 6 furlongs to go. At that point I mentioned to my playing partner, "if Betfair offered this in-running I would bet the house against him". Four furlongs later this looked to be prescient. Frosted, the horse he was battling, the horse who he swatted like a fly when he ran at him in the Belmont, the horse who is nowhere near as talented, actually headed him. Game set and match.

Not so fast. American Pharoah rebroke.

My lock of the century fade in running, the horse who had to be asked at the half, suddenly looked like he was still going to win. Unfortunately for him, and his connections, he had to beat one more contender, and didn't have enough in the already empty tank. His ears pinned, his nostrils flared, he tried his guts out, but he was caught in the last couple of jumps.

People like to watch this game for many reasons. Some people like to wear hats, dress up, be seen. Some like to watch stakes races, claimers; some just like to be at the track. Me, I like to watch great horses. Today I saw one in American Pharoah, and the fact he did not win had absolutely nothing to do with it.

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