Posts tagged “horse racing

I’ll Have Another

Posted on June 9, 2012

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

I’ll Have Another will not become the 12th Triple Crown winner. The three-year-old colt was scratched from today’s Belmont Stakes when his trainer Doug O’Neill discovered a swollen tendon in his left front leg. The horse could have raced, O’Neill said, but it would have been to his detriment and so he was promptly retired from the sport. I’ll Have Another will lead the post parade this afternoon before returning to Southern California tomorrow or Monday.

Race horses cost anywhere from $200,000 to a few million dollars. Owner J. Paul Reddam purchased I’ll Have Another last year for $35,000, a relative bargain. Although the pony may not have had a big-name pedigree, he came from horses that were not only speedy, but had great stamina, a trait that would have served him well in the mile-and-a-half-long Belmont. Furthermore, the horse bore a striking resemblance to Seabiscuit (another West Coast horse who inspired a nation and went into retirement with a left front leg injury…before making a big comeback) ; he had a big heart and hated to lose.

One wonders what might have been. And one hopes that history does not forget this horse and its surrounding cast of characters. People love underdogs. In February of this year, I’ll Have Another was an unknown horse with a no-name jockey that won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes with 43-1 odds. Within months of that victory, he became a rock star. In honor of I’ll Have Another, here are some odds and ends about him, Seabiscuit and horse racing in general:

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Posted on May 8, 2012

Sometime during my first year of graduate school, I sat up late one night wondering whether I had it in me to cross the finish line. I was tired. I was uncertain. I missed my usual level of contact with family and friends. I dreaded another week of 1,000+ pages of reading. I could not bear the thought of another paper that analyzed a book’s argument. I questioned why the hell I ever left Atlanta, moved to Louisiana and did this to myself and family too.

All of this over a dead Frenchman, but we’ll get to him at another time…

Across town, one of my classmates was suffering a similar bout of existential blues. That night, we exchanged inspirational You Tube videos featuring a battery of knockout punches, rah-rah speeches and the like, anything to spur each other on and remind each other that we could do it. One of the videos I sent him was the 1938 match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. War Admiral was a Triple Crown winner and the odds-on favorite to win. Seabiscuit was a plucky little pony from the West Coast, a horse whose never-say-die style inspired Americans during the Great Depression.

Here’s that race:

There have been times when I’ve wanted to quit, drop out, say “enough is enough,” but I’ve kept going. I had faith that down the stretch I could make it across the finish line if I just kept digging. Some people have stuck by me throughout this process and cheered me on when I’ve fallen behind. For that I am grateful. Others have proven themselves to be less understanding. And you know what? That’s okay too. The finish line is so close I can taste it and as hard as this race has been, I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and excited about what lies ahead.

I still have a final and a thesis defense before me, but I’ll take everything one length at a time.

In the meantime, I’ll be inspired by I’ll Have Another, a pony with Seabiscuit’s heart (and Left Coast successes), who took speedy Bodemeister by surprise this past weekend at the Kentucky Derby: