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07.11.2005
Derby Day II
Posted by: Ann Wilson

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.

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