Derby Day II
No one sees Giacomo coming. The odds on this
horse are 40-1, and only a tiny handful of lucky or 'clued in' people
put money on him. To me, all the horses are miraculous. They are
extreme athletes; big, buff, cut, shiny equine royalty...nothing like
the sweet old riding horses we have on the farm in Seattle (though
there have been moments my little Morgan mare does dare to dream!).
The moment they leave the starting gate
everyone in the place is on their feet. All eyes are locked on the
pack. Whoops turn to yells, yells turn to screams as every person
throws every bit of energy into his or her chosen horse. Blood is
pumping wildly, people are up on their chairs. Afleet Alex is doing
well, but strangely doesn't spark...and then out of the blue, here
comes Giacomo like a locomotive on fire right up through the pack!
People can't believe what they're seeing, people suck in their breath,
hearts do an odd dance, eyes struggle to focus and brains to believe
what they are witnessing. The horses are still building steam as they
get closer to the finish...Giacomo has his mind made up. He gives it a
blast and crosses the line...several horses together with him. The
jockeys stand in the stirrups. They are the only ones who know the
truth at this moment.
There is chaos in the stands and in the
infield. No one understands who has won, no one has expected this. It
is a photo finish, so there is a long moment where people can be heard
saying "who won? Who won?" Finally the giant reader boards down on the
track read "Giacomo". It is an upset. One for the books. Where did this
horse come from? People are indignant, and the whiskey in their veins
makes them yell about it. I look around me...'wow! These folks are
serious.' From another table we hear the overjoyed yell of a winner. He
has won and won big. With Giacomo's odds at 40-1, he has won $40,000.
People let out a collective sigh and collapse in their seats. I look
down at this wonderful horse who now has roses draped across his wet
withers, and stands proudly in the winner's circle being photographed.
I wish I could touch him and smell his horsy scent and tell him
personally I thought he truly rocked. But...he knows.
People start making their preparations to
leave. The race day is over for most. They have parties to go to. They
need to go freshen up before the next round of social events. Tracy and
I are having a little trouble leaving though. There are a couple of
more races as the sun starts to set, and we chill and watch them,
betting the rest of our money. We don't win. Our luck has turned and as
the last race ends we clink our glasses together and toast each other.
Here's to friendship and horses and Marianne and Louisville! Oh yes,
and here's to our hats!
To be continued.