Oy vey....say it ain't so!
I'll Have Another just scratched from the race tomorrow. Apparently a tendon injury.
Earlier this morning I heard they took him out for a trot around the track much earlier than usual and everything went well.
I went to my first Preakness at age 19 and went to 11 in a row....my body will never be the same from those sun decked intestinal boot camps of fortitude that the infield was, but I became a huge fan of horse racing. Our crew would get to "Old Hilltop" at 5:30 to 6:00 in the morning to get a spot early in line. They let people in and we would run across the infield while lugging incredibly heavy coolers stocked with ice and beer (Genesee Cream Ale, Genesee Bock and Mickey's Big Mouth) to get our annual spot right near the fence towards the finish line, with other friends straggling in later in the day to join us. Seeing and sharing stories and beers with people that we only saw once per year in the areas next to us. Drunk by 10:00 am. Relishing the beginning of another summer in Maryland. Excitedly learning to read the Racing Forum, placing bets and being close enough to not only see, but to hear and feel the sweat soaked horses stretch for the finish, muscles rippling from the effort and jockeys covered in dirt like some mad godlike ship captain steering straight into the white caps of an angry storm. Passing out by 1:00pm and waking up at 3:00, maybe completely sunburnt or drenched in rain to get up and get back to partying and wathcing the early races. The buildup for the Preakness late in the afternoon. The singing of "My Maryland" as the horses came out of the paddock and onto the track for the Preakness. I've waited avidly for a Triple Crown winner for some 24 years now.
Sunday Silence charging down the backstretch right in front of our spot on the fence to win the Preakness in my first year, but fail in the Belmont. Silver Charm and Real Quiet charging past us on the stretch at our same spot on the fence at Preakness on back to back years only to come in second at the Belmont, the Real Quiet win the last of my Preakness infield days. The Real Quiet vs. Victory Gallop duel on the stretch of the Belmont being one of the most exciting, and dissapointing, sporting moments I have witnessed (and a great TV all...."IT's TOO CLOSE TO CALL!!!!")
Charismatic, War Emblem, the great story of Funny Cide and the roar of 100,000 at Belmont when the gates dropped and he couldn't seal the deal. Smarty Jones, as sure a thing as I have seen, being released too early by the jockey and gassing down the stretch, still finishing second. Big Brown, THE sure thing, running a perfect race and then not releasing for the stretch and not even finishing the race.
The freight train closing style of I'll Have Another appeared perfect for Belmont and to lock down the Triple Crown, finally. Vindication for years of tense excitement watching previous hopefuls. The anticipation of Spring and another chance.
I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be a Cubs fan. Agony.
It's just a horse race kid, stop bantering and get back to work! --K