Sunday, May 3, 2009


This morning, I sat down on our red living room sofa. My wife showed me the sports section of the Press Democrat, our local paper. The results of the Kentucky Derby along with a half-page picture of Mine That Bird, a 3 year-old gelding, filled the front page. I don't follow horse racing, although I occasionally stumble onto one on TV. Interested in the underdog story, I decided to find a replay of the race on the Internet.

Watching the contest between these animals running at full gallop…well, poetry in motion falls terribly short of an adequate description. It seems like the physics alone would make their incredible pace impossible. And yet their four legs move in perfect timing and precision while carrying the remainder of their muscular bodies along with a jockey, altogether totaling several hundreds of pound.

This horse had no chance to win. During the race, he found himself in last place…LAST PLACE!!! Why does a horse, 50-to-1 shot, running in last place against horses with more pedigree and raw talent than he, all the sudden decide not only to compete but to win the Kentucky Derby by 6 3/4 lengths – the largest margin of victory in over 60 years? It's like he couldn't even read. The horse didn't realize that the odds of him winning and the odds of me winning the same race without a horse were fairly even.

A couple of things questions/issues into my mind: 1) how can I be that horse (a reverse of the Mr. Ed show) and 2) what drove this whole venture? My response to the first issue would be to walk right up to Mine That Bird, look him straight in the eye, and tell him that he’s my hero…that he single-handedly blew away all my excuses for not succeeding in anything…and that forever more I will remember this race (along with the first Rocky movie) whenever I need a shot of encouragement or incentive to get off my butt and engage my dreams…

Having processed the first, my mind swiftly pounced upon the second issue/question. When I think of horse racing, I think of years of lineage and work along with millions of dollars invested from sheiks and other persons with funny hats. I think of generations of horse love and expertise and training. I think of someone who would trade their soul to breed a derby winner. Expecting something along those lines, I read further into the article trying to discover the impetus for the miracle. Instead, I found this quote, hidden on page C3, from one of the owners:

“This just shows what can be done with two buddies who have fun together and like to go to the races and dream a little bit.”

I assume he spoke of himself and another male human, but he could have been talking about himself and the horse for all I know. And it seemed like if the horse could have spoken English or any other language we could understand, he might very well have responded with the same quote. From where I sat, the horse and the owners looked to be on the same page. They loved what they were doing…it was fun.

Here’s to Mine That Bird: thanks for reminding me that pursing what I love makes everything possible.


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