Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Horse That Stops a Nation

I could be wrong, but I don't think the US has "stopped" for a horse race since the 1938 match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Back then, as was lovingly chronicled in Laura Hillenbrand's book, it was a nation glued to their radios and calling off sick or pulling their cars over to the side of the road to hear the broadcast of "the race of the century."

Things like that don't seem to happen in horse racing anymore and I--along with my racing pals--often bemoan the fact that horse racing feels so much further away from the public's consciousness than it used to be. The beautiful and talented Zenyatta undoubtedly brought new fans into racing, but not many other horses in recent years have had her magnetic combination of grace, star power, beauty, and overwhelming class.

And then onto our collective racing radar screen strode Black Caviar. She's an Aussie mare, a brilliant sprinter, and she's won all of her 16 races with elegant ease. Racing under chic salmon and black silks, the large bay mare is grace personified. I'd say she's never really been tested so we don't know just how good she honestly is because she's yet to *need* to go full throttle. It's easy to run out of superlatives when writing and talking about this superstar.

I've stayed up into the wee hours of the morning or woken up well before O-dark-hundred to watch Black Caviar with a wonderful (and international) cadre of racing fans. We've tweeted, had a Google+ hangout (with cocktails!) and each time shared our collective admiration for this mare. From both coasts of Canada, to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and down under to Oz itself, we all amble in, as if to some international watering hole in a Humphrey Bogart film, and we cheer for "our" girl. OURS because like all the greats, they can in a small way belong to everyone. We carry a piece of them around with us when we share their victories with our non-racing friends. Every time I "introduce" someone to Black Caviar they comment on how effortlessly she runs, how professional she is. Little by little, "Nelly" as she is called familiarly, winds around your heart and you just have to see her next race. She's addictive. And let's hope that she's got many more thrills in store in the coming year!

And she's good for racing, good for sport, good for us all. The horses who remain in our memory touch us and they share with us briefly their eagerness and their heart...they remind us of all the best qualities we can strive for.

If you're not yet familiar with Black Caviar and her winning ways, check her out. I dare you not to fall head-over-heels in love with this mare, the horse that stops a nation.

And a shout out to the "usual suspects" @inkmarksofsu, @milkmaid58 @hltonini, @ourmaizcay, @cmdevereux who make it such fun to cheer for Black Caviar every couple of weeks!

No comments: