Back in the saddle – nothing more appropriate than a story about horses for this post.
I just got a call from my farrier – that’s a guy who shoes horses – he’s coming out to the farm in a a couple of days to trim the horses’ hooves. Good guy, Ted. He reminds me of my brother, some – especially when he’s got a hind leg resting on his thigh!
So just after the phone call, I check my email and there is a comment from Heidi waiting for me to approve. Her comment was on my Chicago Blues story, so I read my post again (yeah, I do that, I reread my stuff). Reading it reminded me of Diane, the redhead, and horses being so close to my mind, I decided to tell this story.
Diane and I were out on the town one evening. She was showing me her beloved Chicago. I think that was the day she took me to Wrigley Field for a baseball game, BEFORE they put the lights in.
Or maybe it was the day we attended Taste of Chicago in Grant Park next to Soldier Field. Allow me this tiny detour, if I may…that morning Diane had asked me about “Mick”; how he was doing. Mick was his nickname, and none of us knew his real name, because I knew Mick in St. Thomas – and real names were unimportant in St. Thomas. We called him Mick, because he has more than a passing resemblance to Mick Jagger. The point is, Mick had departed St. Thomas a month previously, headed home to Ohio. I told Diane I’d never see Mick again as long as I lived – that was about 9 am. About 12:30 pm, in Grant Park, with people scurrying to and fro at the popular Taste of Chicago event, I randomly chose to cross a street and wander right, instead of left. There was no reason, I was meandering. I heard someone call my name, looked up, and there was Mick! Less than 4 hours after my bold declaration that I’d never see him again…and I never have since that day. God has a sense of humor.
Back to the races. Whichever day it was, Diane and I were driving somewhere on the outskirts of downtown, I believe it was Maywood Park. Diane excitedly asked to stop at the park when she saw the lights on – so we did, of course. There were only three races left. The first of those three was about to start as we sat down. The horses were trotting around the track before approaching the moving starting gate. My method was simple: a horse that was calm in the turns, kept his head on the business at hand, not tossing a gawking. Good smooth stride that never missed a beat in the turn. I saw that horse in the first race, and told Diane that it would win…it did.
The second race, I saw the same kind of horse again, and this time I bet on it to win. Two dollars, because that was the minimum bet. The program showed the horse at about 12 to 1, and I was so confident in my choice, that I believe I influenced the guy behind me. Another winner!
Having won, I didn’t want to press my luck so I didn’t bet the third race. Watching the horses taking their lap, I noticed a horse of the kind I liked, but this horse was a big, powerful grey. Deep chested, strong stride, magnificent. I leaned over to Diane and said, “Not only will that horse win, but he will lead wire to wire.” He did.
I have a sense for horses, I guess. I don’t really know what I’m looking for – but I know a good horse when I see it. I can’t tell you what I see, or how I know. In 2002 I was sitting with friends in Tommy Condon’s on Church Street in Charleston. We were watching the Derby on TV – as the horses were paraded, we were commenting and making our choices. As one horse came on the screen, I said, “That’s the one, he’s the winner.” And
I knew I was right. I hadn’t seen the name when I made my declaration, I didn’t know much about the entrants, just names in passing. The horse, War Emblem. He won.
It’s probably good I can’t define what I see – not knowing probably keeps me from betting seriously, and that’s a good thing.