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AND THE RACE IS ON!


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sculpture by kayti sweetland Rasmussen

Today’s 145th running of the Belmont Stakes race in New York was exciting on more than one level. The Belmont is a 1 1/2 miles run and is the culmination of the Triple Crown Series which begins the first Saturday in May each year with the Kentucky Derby, and sandwiches the Preakness which was two weeks ago.

I never seem to get my bet down in time, but then I’ve only seen it on TV. We love horses in our family, but strangely enough, these are the only times of the year I watch the races. I study the racing form eagerly in the morning of the race for the odds and carefully choose my horse. The trainers are familiar, and some of the same jockeys remain from year to year. The pre-race is interesting to me because we get a little history of the jockeys, and of the trainers, which makes it fun to choose whom we will bet our two bucks on usually depending on the hardships the jockey or the trainer have gone through to get there.

Gary Stevens is a jockey I used to follow, mainly because he is so good looking (plus he’s a great rider) and he had a part in the movie “Seabiscuit” which I loved to pieces. He retired a few years ago and sat in the broadcasters booth to read the race, but I found him again at the Preakness when they announced that he was the “oldest jockey in the field” at age 50. I immediately chose him as fellow “codger” to put my money on to win, and he came in by several lengths on “Oxbow”, trained by D. Wayne Lukas who has been around nearly as long as I have. It goes to show you can’t discount the oldsters, we’ve still got it.

The second jockey they featured two weeks ago was Mike Smith, 47, and also called attention to his age, so I could have lived betting on either one, just on the face of their advanced age.

Today Gary Stevens was again on board “Oxbow”, and Mike Smith on “Palace Malice”. I naturally chose Stevens once again, and cheered like crazy during the couple of minutes the race takes. Charlie, our Jack Russell was tuckered out with the heat of the day and sleepily opened one eye in disgust. He is a lousy sports fan.

In a sport where sportsmanship doesn’t include making way for another jockey, Gary Stevens was a classic and classy gentleman at the end of this one. When Smith was asked what Stevens had said to him near the finish line when Smith was a little ahead of him, he said “Go ahead Big Boy, you’re movin’ better than I am.” I don’t know, that remark touched me more than if he had won the race.

“Palace Malice” took the race by a length. Dr. Advice lost one dollar on “Oxbow” who came in second I lost 2 dollars. Dr. Advice is almost as old as the two jockeys together.

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9 comments on “AND THE RACE IS ON!

  1. Great article well written. I was cheering for Palice Malice but didn’t have an money on him! Darn it! Next time I have to place my bet ahead of time.

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  2. Loved this post about the “aged jokeys,” Both guys, I blieve are nice fellas off the track as well. At least I think so. I hope I have that correct. I had to laugh about your description of the old trainer. Age often has the advantage in many areas of life.

    I like to tell younger people that I’ve “been there and done that” and that is why I know, what I know. I know that I repeated know too many times in one sentence. 🙂

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  3. Another fabulous work of art to feast our eyes upon ! Would that you could blog what it’s like to the touch.

    These classic races are all different in character and you capture the mood and excitement. Your enthusiasm for life and its variety persists undiminished.

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  4. Great little story, Kayti. Go the codgers!

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  5. Well Kayti, it goes without saying that you know what a horse racing fan I was as a little girl. As I have gotten older (and after Ruffian had to be destroyed on the track in 1988), I find myself concerned for the fillies running against stallions and for the horses leaving the gates.

    Joe and I used to go to the races both in Sonoma County and Pleasanton. We had a lot of fun betting on the ponies. His rule: take the grey horse in the 7th race.

    Codgers become way too sentimental and I am no exception.

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