I got the horse race bug early. I grew up near a harness race track, Rosecroft, outside Washngton DC. I delivered newpapers to the owner of the track who lived in a mansion on a hill overlooking the track and the surrounding extensive horse farm. It was a tough slog up the hill to the house but he gave me a big tip. I rode my bike each day through the farm up to the house, passing magnificent horses along the way. I even ran the track one night with a group of us working with a music circus pitched at the track off season. I did not realize until then that the track was composed of deep sand and it was a real test to run it.
I recall going one night about age 15 to the track with an uncle. He bet a large amount on the “sure thing” in one race to show, come third. Not a big win but a certain way to earn money on money. The horse ran as predicted leading all the way into the stretch where it fell to the ground - dead! My uncle screamed at the horse to get up and finish. I thought he was going to run onto the track and push the horse across the finish line. I stopped him from rushing onto the track by intoning in a somber tone, “the horse is dead!”
I had good luck with the ponies during my stints in South Africa and Finland where I did go the track and got to know the locals through this worldwide sport. Horse racing is perhaps the most truly international of all sports.
Today California Chrome promises to write history by winning the elusive “Triple Crown.” The horse won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness at Baltimore in convincing manner. I have bet him to win today and take the “Triple Crown.” To make it a worthwhile bet I have him on a trifecta ticket with two strong competitors.
Yes, horse racing is a great sport with what may be the most magnificent animals in the world ridden by jockeys who are considered to be the best “pound for pound” athletes in the world.