Sunday, May 02, 2010

Stormy weather

I think I've now heard from all my Tennessee friends, and all are safe and relatively high & dry. It's crazy out there! Floods in Tennessee, oil washing up in the Gulf, busted pipes & dirty water in Boston, car bombs in NYC, tornadoes in the South... it all makes the noisy thunderstorms that have awakened me the past two nights seem pretty tame by comparison.

* * * * *

Watched the Kentucky Derby yesterday and, as I do pretty much every year about this time, remembered the time I got to meet the great Secretariat. It was about a year after he'd retired. I was a horse-crazy thirteen-year-old, and we took a family vacation to the bluegrass country of Kentucky. After making a pilgrimage to Churchill Downs, we went to the farm where Secretariat was at stud, only to find it had been closed to the public. But my parents made a phone call and pleaded our case, and they let us in and gave us a tour of the stud barn. There are pictures (I need to scan them someday & post them online!) of a nerdy little me standing next to that huge glossy red stallion, touching his shoulder, looking up at him in awe. I also got to meet his stablemate Riva Ridge and several other stallions whose names and histories I knew well. I remember that Secretariat was enormous and stunningly beautiful; though he was no longer in peak racing condition, he'd been off the track less than a year and still looked like the tremendous athlete he was. It was a great, great day for me.

This amuses me greatly: the list of celebrities I have patted on the shoulder consists of Secretariat and Bruce Springsteen. Hee! :)


Jessie Carty said...

are all girls horse crazy around that age :) i was obsessed when i was in 5th and 6th grades! ah i even have poems about that love...

Anne said...

It's a pretty common obsession, for sure! :) We didn't have enough money for me to take riding lessons, much less actually have a horse - and I didn't know anyone with horses - so it was always pretty much an admiration-from-afar thing. But I sure did read a lot of horse books, and watched every televised horse race.

Lyle Daggett said...

Hmmm... Bruce Springsteen... Secretariat... dare I say it -- Born to Run?

My sister (3 years younger than me) was hugely into horses at around the same time in her life. She was able to take riding lessons (at a place somewhere north of Minneapolis) for a bit one year. And yeah, horse books.

(I never had a thing for horses. I did comic books.)

(Nevertheless me = envious that you got to meet that beautiful creature up close.)

I saw (on T.V.) Secretariat win the three triple crown races. His win at the Belmont was especially stunning, just blew away the field, won by something like 30 lengths if I remember right, and set a new record time. In the old video of the race, as he crosses the finish line, there are no other horses anywhere in sight behind him.

The length of his stride (as I recall from the Time magazine article, just before the Belmont) -- from the rearmost hoof to the foremost hoof -- was an inch short of 25 feet.

Secretariat was featured on the cover of Time magazine -- this was during the time when news of the Watergate political scandal was everywhere, White House officials under constant investigation and indictment, news every week of someone else who had resigned while protesting his innocence (before cutting a deal for a reduced sentence). For weeks on end Time magazine featured various Nixon administration people on the cover, in connection with the Watergate stuff.

Then, for one week in the middle of it, the head of Secretariat was featured on the cover. One of the letters to the editor a week later said something to the effect, how refreshing to see the other end of the horse for a change...