Written by Ronald Scaglia: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 22 June 2012 00:00
Can we really draw inspiration from a racehorse? In the movie Seabiscuit, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, many people identified with the horse, who had been given up on by many, yet overcame his doubters to rise to the top. Those struggling through the Great Depression felt a connection with the underdog. After Union Rags victory in the Belmont Stakes on June 9, I feel that this colt could be the inspiration for today’s generation.
I didn’t wager on Union Rags in the Belmont. He did carry my hopes and dreams, as well as my two dollars, in the Kentucky Derby but finished a very disappointing seventh. So, when it came to choose a runner to back in the Belmont, my support went to Dullahan. And although I am quite disappointed by Dullahan’s effort in the Belmont, there is still something about Union Rags’ story, and perhaps how he got there that we can find hope in.
As a 2-year-old, Union Rags was terrific. He captured important races at Saratoga and Belmont and finished a close second in the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Because of this, he was considered the early favorite to win this year’s Kentucky Derby and some even considered him to be a legitimate Triple Crown threat. Was there a time in the not too distant past when you seemed on top of the world, just as it appeared Union Rags was, only to have things start to unravel?
His jockey, Javier Castellano, was the rider for both Union Rags and another promising colt named Algorithms. During the winter when he was forced to decide between the two, Castellano chose Algorithms. I’m sure some, if not most, people can relate to this situation. Has there been someone in your life whom you’ve worked with, trusted, or even had a special relationship with who suddenly abandoned you for another? Maybe it’s the boss who chose someone else for the promotion that you felt you deserved or the girlfriend/boyfriend who suddenly dumped you to go with another.
Moving on, a new jockey, Julien Leparoux, replaced Castellano and, after an initial victory, Union Rags was defeated in his final race before the Kentucky Derby, with Leparoux being blamed by some for a misjudged ride. Then, in the Derby, Union Rags got off to a bad start, was shuffled to the back of the pack and then was blocked when trying to make a rally. Although he would eventually pass horses and make a strong rally, he was just too far back to make an impact. Leparoux was once again criticized. Again, many of us can probably relate to this. Have you ever been misled or misguided by someone who was supposed to know better and then suffered a disappointment because of it?
However, Union Rags would have his chance at redemption. A leading jockey, John Velazquez, took over the reins and as the field approached the top of the stretch, it was very apparent that Union Rags was full of energy and ready to burst his way to the top. However, he was blocked in behind horses and could not make his way through. Have you ever felt that you had something special to share and so much potential, yet something was blocking your path?
To his outside was Atigun, being ridden by Leparoux. He was positioned so that he was blocking Union Rags and preventing him from moving to the outside and launching his final rally. Have you ever had a colleague suddenly try to trip you up or stop you from achieving glory?
Incredibly, as the field entered the final furlong, Mike Smith, a Hall of Fame jockey who was riding Paynter, whipped his mount left-handed causing the tiring leader to bear to his right. This created just enough of a gap along the rail for Velazquez to guide his mount through the narrow opening, escape from the crowd and surge to win the race in a fantastic photo finish.
Is their inspiration for us all? Sure. No matter how difficult things can get, there are reversals of fortunes and sometimes fate does intercede and allow for happy endings. Even if things are not going as well as you’d like, hang in there. Eventually, the right jockey will come along, and a space will open up and you will make your run to glory and get the coveted blanket of white carnations.
Oh, and does anyone know if Dullahan finished the race yet? I guess I can discard my ticket.