Monday Musings 56

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On this day in 1920, 100 years ago, the legendary racehorse Man o’ War raced for the last time, winning the Kenilworth Park Gold Cup, which was actually a match race against 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton, although no one used the term “Triple Crown” at that time. This was the first horserace to be filmed in its entirety. Man o’ War did not win the Triple Crown because he did not race in the Kentucky Derby.

Thoroughbred racing and the Triple Crown were not the same 100 years ago as they are today. Samuel Riddle, Man o’ War’s owner, skipped the Kentucky Derby because he felt, and he was not alone at the time, that horses should not race a mile and a quarter early in their 3-year old season.

The Blood Horse named Man o’ War as the greatest race horse of the 20th century with Secretariat at number two. I respectfully disagree, but appreciate the impact Man o’ War had on racing and on American sports in general. His funeral service in 1947 was nationally broadcast on radio. From America’s Best Racing, a picture of Man o’ War:

 

See the source image

 

I just don’t think one can compare a horse foaled in 1917 when probably 5,000 foals were born to one foaled in 1970 when almost 25,000 were born. (Yes, in the context of horses “foaled” and “born” are essentially the same word.) However, Man o’ War’s impact on thoroughbred racing endures as his sire line continues to excel through horses such as Tiznow and Tiz The Law.

My father’s gas/service station was so close to Pimlico race course that one could hear the track announcer. In the mid-1990s I was part of a group that owned a racehorse and she actually won a couple of races for us. The waning of my interest in sports in general applies to horse racing as well, but I still watch the Triple Crown races and the Breeders Cup.

Is anyone reading a fan of horse racing? I would very much like to read any comments you might have.

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Our move to the desert is supposed to be getting closer. Part of me will not believe it until (if?) it happens, but I think part of me is getting anxious. Without getting into disturbing detail, for a few days I have been suffering from what could be physiological manifestations of anxiety.

How can I calm down? Well, my running usually helps, at least for 4-6 hours, but so does this:

 

See the source image

 

From owlshead.org a picture of a 1967 Corvette convertible with the auxiliary hardtop in place. I think that is the best automotive shape in American history, much like I think Secretariat is the greatest racehorse in American history.

I estimate the probability of my buying/building a restomod based on a ’67 Vette as very low, but not zero and not as low as the odds of winning the Mega Millions or Powerball. What is life without dreams?

 

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10 thoughts on “Monday Musings 56

  1. My late Mother-in-law always watched the Triple Crown races and would watch the all day coverage of them. As a result my wife and I make a day of it for each of the three races and watch the cable coverage of the racing card preceding the three races. I am required to get the background on the horses for the three races. My wife then selects horses for each of us, the children and the grand children. And a fun time is had by all. We have a special connection to the trainer Bob Baffert as he is from Arizona and a University of Arizona graduate. Needless to say we favor the horses he has trained. We have the movies about Secretariat and Seabiscuit.

    I agree with you about Secretariat. His running of the Belmont Stakes was a demonstration of the athletic ability of this horse in the fastest time and winning by more than 30 lengths. An amazing horse.

    I downloaded the picture of Man o’ War as Beverly will want to see it.That is a beautiful big horse. Seabiscuit was sired by a son of Man o’ War.

    I like your ’67 Corvette convertible, so admits this Ford fan.

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    1. Thanks, Philip. Heartening to read of your interest in racing.

      It is impossible to explain to a racing layman how incredible Secretariat was. I’ll try…his Kentucky Derby run was the first sub-2:00 run in race history AND he ran each quarter mile faster than the previous one. His fastest quarter was the fifth and last quarter mile in the race. In the Preakness, he started last and caught the entire field in the first turn! In the Belmont, his time for the first half of the race–3/4 mile–would win most races at that distance and he still ran the rest of the race with ease. His Beyer figure of 138 for the race is easily the best of all time. A 100 Beyer is outstanding, a mark achieved by very few horses.

      One is not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but Secretariat’s trainer was not in the same league as the horse. If a 1970s equivalent of Bob Baffert had been his trainer, Secretariat might have retired undefeated.

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  2. Re: Stress/anxiety.

    Different folks cope in different ways. Some try psychiatric help, some try whiskey (the latter is NOT recommended), others use a myriad of other coping mechanisms. For myself, for many years my motorcycle has been my “head cleaner.” Sometimes a couple hours was enough, sometimes a couple weeks was needed. I have also found that working on my project cars and bikes is a big help. It might be something as minor as buffing some paint, or as much as rebuilding an engine, or in the case of my gasser replacing the transmission and rear end. For 2-4 hours I’m able to forget whatever is stressing me, instead focusing on something completely unrelated.

    While the cost is probably more than a couch session with a head doctor, I achieve the same result AND have something else nice to show for my money. Also no whiskey hangover and the other baggage one accumulates spending time in dive bars.

    As always, YMMV.

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    1. Thanks, DDM.

      I know that much of my stress/anxiety results from being “underutilized.” I won’t say that idle hands are the devil’s workshop because I am not religious, but a lot of idle time is almost never a good thing.

      Since my departure from baseball, I have been extremely “underutilized.” A good friend of mine and someone who occasionally comments on this blog remarked, “Unbelievable resume” when I showed my resume to him. If that’s true, then it’s unbelievable that someone with my skills and experience has been shunted into the backwater, labeled as obsolete and unable to find a professional situation that I would enjoy and in which I would thrive. Let me quickly add that I am not wired to work just for the sake of working (as you opined that change just for the sake of change is not a good thing). I NEED to have a high level of intrinsic interest or I cannot perform. For me, doing “nothing” outranks doing the wrong thing. Doing the right thing outranks everything else. What would I do if I had to work? That leads to some frightening choices.

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  3. My maternal grandfather passed when I was 6, and he had a variety of health issues before passing. But, he took me to the track a couple times. I remember having my first club sandwich at Greenwood Raceway (the Old Woodbine Racetrack) in Toronto.
    Now, it’s old history and doesn’t really matter any more so, I honestly don’t know the whole story. My understanding is that my grandpa had some involvement in bookmaking, not only for horses but in boxing too. Somewhere I have pictures of my grandpa with horse owners, some with fighters (he was apparently a pretty good amateur boxer himself).
    Racing still reminds my mom of her dad. She still talks of attending The Queen’s Plate sometime, which we may one day do. We often watch the race.
    So I’m not a big race fan, although I’ve been a few times to the track as an adult. I am a sports fan and a history buff. My girlfriend is from Oshawa ON, where Windfields Farm was headquartered. Of course that’s where another great racer and stud, Northern Dancer, was bred. The farm no longer exists, the lands now house a university and college as well as many houses. There’s some confusion of what exactly will happen with Northern Dancer’s gravesite, which is still there. Greenwood Raceway also is long gone, replaced by townhomes.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, sir.

      As you probably know, Secretariat’s last race was at Woodbine. The cloud made by his breath condensing on the cold day dwarfed those of the other horses.

      Northern Dancer still might be the greatest sire in thoroughbred history. He was such a small horse that a platform had to be built so he could cover the mare while breeding.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Some of my best high school memories were of playing hooky and going to Pimlico with JK. I don’t remember having much money back then, so we could not have bet much, but I did learn to read the Racing Form.
    Many years later, I got a part time gig checking jockeys urines at the trotter tracks in Maryland. One day a group of us went to an employees day. My ex asked me if she had to bet the 1-2-3 horses to win. Not understanding what she was asking me, I said no. So she bet the combination instead of the straight bet. Of course the horses ran 1/2/3. The trifecta paid four grand. She won about $300. In the end, by not betting at work, I took home much more than the trifecta.
    When I lived in Hong Kong, I was the guest of my resident hotel at the track there. That night, I won $1000 HK. My host told me the average betting on a day at the races was $125 million. Again, fond memories at the track.

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