Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Those cowboys, they came with a good horse."

Its breeding and its training
And its something unknown
That drives you and carries
You home.

Run for the Roses, Dan Fogelberg

That 'something unknown' might include a diminutive Robin Williams-look-alike jockey with moves that Houdini would covet.

(The quote in the blog title came from competing trainer Bob Baffert; understatement of the day.)

This was the most satisfying Kentucky Derby I've ever seen; for as many reasons as it was miraculous and improbable. This was the race where the regular guy beat out the fat cats; where the horse and trainer ignored and at best marginalized by the corporate media... walked off with the cup. This story included adversity, perseverance, an incredible ride, an ebullient jockey and a historic sprint.

In the final stretch, as Mine That Bird pulled away from the field, I had flashbacks to Secretariat.

What a horse! Its one thing to steadfastly work your way forward from dead last (Calvin "Bo-rail" Borel has cemented his place in history with this ride.) Its another thing for a young horse to then turn on the afterburners needed to dart through a tiny opening on the rail, and have the stamina to open an astounding lead as the million dollar horses scrambled for second place in his muddy wake.

This young, unknown horse did all of this for his talented jockey: from last place, he passed Atomic Rain on the outside before cutting in to the rail, slipped through a tiny opening - faster than onlookers could even blink in surprise - then surged forward, still accelerating and increasing the gap as he crossed the finish line - as though all of this had been merely a warm-up exercise before the real sprint. Mine That Bird finished with the largest margin (6 3/4 lengths) since 1946, when Assault won by eight lengths.

This was a race for the ages.

The media, as usual, was left mired in the muddy backstretch. All they could find to say about this unknown commodity was that Mine That Bird had only cost $9,200 (some accounts said $9,500) in a field where the favorites were worth millions, and that trainer and part owner Bennie Woolley Jr. had driven over 20 hours from New Mexico with the horse trailer hooked up to his pickup truck -- and a broken leg (what about this didn't seem like a story, I'll never know.) All to bring his 50-1 gelding onto the Field of the Roses for the second greatest upset in history.

When life hands you hard times, sometimes fate replies with a miracle. I'm sure I wasn't the only American watching this victory with an enormous grin of satisfaction. In a time when everyone but the super-rich are losing - well, nearly everything - a budget-priced, underdog gelding with a regular-guy trainer outraced the million dollar favorites. He physically and symbolically kicked mud in their faces as he flew by them on the track.

This year, in this race, the little guy won. Even the King of Dubai couldn't buy this race away from a New Mexico cowboy.


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