I am surprised that I didn't write about American Pharoah on Saturday. I don't follow horse racing at all except in May, starting with the Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness and ending with the Belmont.
I don't follow horse racing, but I have always enjoyed watching it. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to the fairgrounds and we would watch the quarter horses sprint down the track. I was always thrilled by the noise of the pounding hooves, the bright racing silks of the jockeys and the bugle call to the track. Dad and I would study the racing forms and choose the horses we thought would win the race. We went to the track together for several years and I have good memories of those times.
We would also watch the Triple Crown races on TV. Watching the thoroughbreds run is very different from watching the quarter horses. The thoroughbreds are just so much bigger and sleeker and faster.
After watching the races, I would get on my bike and ride around the neighborhood like I was riding a race horse. I remember pretending I was riding on Affirmed, the last horse to win a Triple Crown back in 1978. Silly, I know.
When I got older, I got out of the habit of going to the race track, but I always tried to watch the Triple Crown horse races.
So there I was on Saturday afternoon after having been out and about most of the day. I was feeling tired and my couch was so comfortable and the air conditioning was on and I wanted to close my eyes, but I had NBC on and the talking heads were discussing whether American Pharoah had a shot at winning the race. The past few years, a horse has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but came up short at the Belmont. Would that American Pharoah or would we see a Triple Crown winner for the first time in 37 years?
I wanted to see American Pharoah win. I love stuff like that! When the horses came out of the starting gate and American Pharoah went right to the lead, I really hoped he would have enough strength the make it the mile and a half. The Belmont is the longest of the three Triple Crown races. I could see the jockey holding the horse back a little but still staying ahead of the rest of the field. Coming around the first turn I thought he was going to be able to win. Going into the second turn, I thought I saw the jockey loosen the grip just a little and coming down the stretch, he just let the horse go and he flew to the finish line. I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I was crying like a baby and yelling, "Come on, you can do it! You're going to win." Yes, I am a giant nerd.
Then I watched the NBC people talk to the jockey, the trainer and the owners. I watched the trophy presentation. I watched the footage of the horse being led back to the stables.
And then I jumped on my bike and rode wildly around the neighborhood.
OK, no, I didn't do that.
But seeing another Triple Crown winner did make me think of 12 year old me riding my bike around the neighborhood and pretending that I was on Affirmed. It made me think of spending time at the race track with my dad and it made me happy to have seen a little bit of history, even it is something that seems silly to some people. I love sports and I love to see greatness. It was a wonderful afternoon :)