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5.23.2011

ALL IN A MINUTE AND 56 SECONDS

I don't have a lot of experience with horses other than a handful of times in my teenage and young adult years.  Growing up our neighbors, who were also distant relatives, had horses on their dilapidated farm.  Once when I was in grade school one of the sons brought his horse over to our house to give us rides.  The horse bucked me off.  Then, when I was in high school my best friend and I tried our hand at riding their horses.  Those horses got spooked on the road and took off in a full out sprint as we both held onto our perspective horses for dear life with Dawn screaming her lungs out for someone to stop her horse.  I could barely hold on myself while laughing at the hilarity of us thinking we could handle these two horses.  Then, on my honeymoon 26 years ago, I road horses in the Smokey Mountains where my first husband's horse kept scarily leaning him over the edge of the mountain and running him into trees.  My last horse experience was with my daughter, then about 8 years old, at the zoo when she was riding a horse named June - a nicely trained horse who seemed almost tired of small, bratty kids mounting her.  Who names a horse June?  The Preakness Stakes was held Saturday - always the third Saturday in May.  Now horse racing isn't totally mainstreamed like other "sports".  It has a huge following, but nationally isn't as big as March Madness, the Superbowl (let alone the playoffs leading up to the Superbowl), nor the World Series, the World Cup, the Stanley Cup, or the NBA championship.  Maybe it just hasn't had its time in the sun yet.  This is what I noticed about the Preakness Stakes (the 2nd of the 3 stake races run) - it was short!  When I say short, I mean the duration of the race was 1 minute and 56 seconds start to finish.  The race distance a mere 1 mile and 3/16.  There is a lot of money in horses.  Not just in the purchase of a race winning thoroughbred, but ongoing care costs yearly of $40,000 on the low end.  Typically race thoroughbreds are valued high not just for the breed, but for the gamble of what that breed will bring the owner and its team.  Which, really is no different than draft choices in any sport - a gamble on who has the talent to perform and ultimately secure a win for the team.  Now if you are a baseball lover but don't have 4 or 5 hours to dedicate to watching 9 regular innings and the possibility of extra innings, horse racing might be the thing for you.  If you are a lover of alcohol and like to partake heartily of it while watching your favorite game, horse racing might involve you starting drinking long before the 1 minute and 56 second race starts.  I once sat through a Cubs baseball game, finally leaving Wriggley Field after an almost 2 hour ran delay and 15 innings (I left before the game actually ended at 16 innings).  6 hours to determine a winner.  I really think baseball in particular should take some clues from the Preakness Stakes.  I still am not a big fan of either, but I will say that if I don't really care for something a small amount of it is far better than hours and hours of it.  The whole Triple Stakes races really haven't been capitalized on for its "convenience to those on a time constraint" or those who might suffer with some sort of attention deficit.

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