By Dennis Minich
The skies parted, the sun broke through and suddenly it was summer, or at least spring. I, like most everyone else, was really getting tired of the daily rains and chilly temps. Those are the things that are supposed to happen in March and maybe April, but here it is May and there were no signs of better things to come. But this week it finally happened.
I consider spring in full force when the trees green up. While the grass had been growing and some flowers had sprouted, the trees had remained pretty dreary until this week and now everything seems green and bright. And it is none too soon.
One of the rites of spring is the annual running of the Kentucky Derby. Labeled as the most-exciting two minutes in sports, the race along with baseball and the Indianapolis 500 break open the summer sports season. My brother and I once had a conversation about which would be more exciting to watch, the Kentucky Derby or the Indianapolis 500. I chose the horses, he chose the cars (yes, we were known to have some pretty exciting conversations.) I stand by my thoughts. While some people really enjoy watching racing, some specifically the Indy cars, I much prefer the horses. Watching the horses coming down the home stretch is the same kind of excitement you experience when a running-back breaks through the line and rushes the length of the field for a touchdown or a baseball player rounds third and heads home attempting an inside-the-park homer, winning or losing, watching that final stretch just takes your breath away.
I may or may not watch the derby each year, but his year was even more special as the chamber of commerce’s foundation held a fundraising derby day event at the new wine bar, Headquarters. I would have to say it was one of the most-fun events I have attended in some time. The facility was perfect, the crowd was just about the right size and everyone was having a good time. I also managed to learn something: I never knew deviled eggs were a derby tradition. I appreciate learning that, because they say if you stop learning you stop living, so now I should be good for a few more days. Another tradition which was on full display was an assortment of hats, both from the ladies and the gentlemen. Again, we were told the idea of the hat is for luck, but I think it is fun to have an occasion when some type of festive headgear is appropriate.
Adding to the excitement, of course, was the fact an 80-1 longshot came in for the victory. Like in every other sport, that’s why you run the race or play the game. There was no way in the world Rich Strike could win that race on paper. But races aren’t run on paper and that’s what makes sports so fun.
Also, this might seem hard to believe, but many of the people who cashed tickets for winning bets likely knew little or nothing about horse racing. I would assume anyone with a general knowledge would know you never look at the longshots, they are suckers’ bets. But there are always some “suckers” who take the longshot, because, why not? And this is one of those occasions when careless gambit paid off.
We are now in the final stage of another school year. Graduation ceremonies started on Sunday at Archie and will continue on for the next three weeks. Every graduate is going to be exposed to every cliché and trite saying that comes with the milestone, “dream big,” “never forget where you came from,” “the world is yours to conquer,” “you are the future,” etc. etc.
If I were to offer advice, it would be very simple. Never stop believing in yourself. Saturday afternoon, a horse which wasn’t even supposed to be in the field, won the Kentucky Derby.
At 80-1, there obviously weren’t too many people who believed in him. There were probably at least a dozen horses with more talent in the field. There were probably more talented jockeys in the field. But none of that mattered because those who were affiliated with Rich Strike believed. The jockey believed. The horse gave a memorable effort.
Great things can happen, you just have to have the belief in yourself and the willingness to try.