Well, I’m not a member of the horsey set, but, if you follow this blog, you know I am an animal lover and a bleeding heart when it comes to critters. In fact, probably not even my closest friends know that my dream as a youngster was to be a veterinarian, however, my grades in math and science in high school and my first year in college were not good enough to pursue that interest. Eventually, I had to abandon that hoped-for profession and I vicariously enjoyed James Herriot’s autobiographical series “All Creatures Great and Small” instead. I don’t follow horse racing, but usually try to watch the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes races online every year. Like most folks, I’ll root today for California Chrome in today’s running of the Belmont Stakes. Hopefully, we’ll have a new Triple Crown winner in California Chrome. What a beauty he is, this chestnut-colored colt who runs like the wind. This morning as I travelled my own version of an oval track down at Council Point Park, I found myself thinking about this colt running in the race of his life today. Just like my travels around the oval loop, there is ultimately a goal. My five miles walked today took me 1 ¼ miles to complete – of course, on a weekend I meander along the trail, lingering at the Park a little longer than usual. I understand the race today is 1½ miles, longer than the prior two races. We all tucker out as the end of the trek is near and we are on the home stretch. Hopefully, California Chrome will surge forward, as before, and cross the finish line, leaving his competitors trailing behind. The odds makers favor California Chrome and I’ll predict he shows his stellar stuff and tonight will prevail in the third jewel of the Triple Crown in horse racing. This oval track path today will surely change California Chrome’s life going forward. Oh sure, he’ll get a hug around the neck, a pat on the head, extra oats and a special rubdown tonight. He’ll be draped with white carnations and the media will glom all over him and why not? This magnificent animal will certainly deserve it and a new Triple Crown winner has been a very long time coming.
Back in 1972 I was lucky enough to pose with this pretty chestnut foal that belonged to friends of our family in Coral Gables, Florida. This colt was stabled with a racehorse Alex and Betty Kantor owned and ran at Hialeah Park Race Track back in the late 60s and early 70s. My parents and I were visiting them for a few days before taking a Bahama Islands cruise out of the port of Miami. We saw the usual tourist attractions, including the greyhound races at Hialeah Park. One day they took us to the horse farm. Immediately I fell in love with this foal and did not want to leave her at the end of our visit. She was all sweetness and goodness and followed me around the paddock like a puppy. Her shiny coat was warm from frolicking in the Summer sun and her velvety ears and soft mane endeared her to me as she nuzzled up close. What little kid didn’t want a pony growing up? Well, I did, and then, after our visit, I now coveted a horse, just like this one. Perhaps I was channeling Liz Taylor’s character “Velvet Brown” in “National Velvet” … who knows? But a horse was not in the cards for me. I wish I remembered this sweet foal’s name … perhaps her moniker contained the word “star” for obvious reasons. I know she was a star in my mind anyway and I hope California Chrome will similarly be a shining star by day’s end.