As 2018 rolls to its conclusion, I can’t help but wonder what makes the Sport of Kings so infectious and so addictive to some and not to others. As I look at the names of the people who have joined the Dirty Horse Club in its debut year, I see a long list of people who are so enamored by these horses that they want (or need) to be a part of it on a larger scale. I do wonder what it was that made them see the sport in all of its hidden magnificence, while others are content with the annual NBC broadcast of the Kentucky Derby alone.
Fans of thoroughbred horse racing stand far above fans of any other sport and I say that not to down-play them but to acknowledge the finer details required to be a true and dedicated fan of this sport over others.
In my mind, those who gravitate to horse racing have a desire to use intelligence in order to solve the puzzle of the competition as opposed to relying on a flip of the coin or just plain luck. If you think about it, we utilize so many small details for hours on end for a two minute race. It takes patience, intelligence, fact-finding and nerves of steel to place a bet on a two minute contest. In the blink of an eye, the fast action of horse racing has you pacing during the post-parade, riveted at the sound of the gates bursting open, calm and cool as they pass the grandstand for the first time, analyzing positions as they near the backstretch, and heart pounding anticipation as you scream at the television set down the stretch. In that final second just before the wire, your emotions spread from complete and utter failure to total euphoria. Two minutes of bliss to experience a crescendo that will either have you completely rejected or walking on cloud nine. That is horse racing. That is the 2 minute thrill of a horse fan.
But before one can even participate in that two minutes that puts them into almost an outer body experience and in order to fully wrap yourself in it, the horse fan must put in his time. Only in horse racing does one need to concentrate on every detail that would separate them from cashing or from going broke. Think about it. If betting on a football game, would you even consider how one team would fare over another if it was raining out? Do you need to look at the team’s stats to see if they ever won or lost on a wet cold field and by how many points? Would you ever look into each player’s background and ancestral tree to see if they come from a successful line of quarterbacks? Even if one were betting on a solo contest in an Olympic competition where it pits one athlete against another who are deemed “the best in the world” one does not research their family background or even look to their past performances in different weather conditions. They do not even have the odds to ponder. Most all other sports do not give you puzzle pieces and a test of the mind in order to crack the outcome. Lots of coin flipping, lots of waiting and a whole lot of commercials. Certainly not the plight of a horse-player.
We pour over their past performances, we sift through their distances, times, stats and workouts. We check pedigree, numbers and sires and mares. We look at weights, trainers, jockeys, bias and weather. We have our favorites, we have our fears. We have longshots and favorites. There are tracks, turf, dirt, synthetic. We have overseas invaders, west coast runners and east coast runners. We have gut feelings and intuition. We have configuring, strategy and opinions. We run the gamut of everything for hours on end for that two minute thrill. Nothing at all compares because what we receive is a field of stunning beauty and the chance to watch that power fly down that stretch. There is nothing in the world that could compare.
This why I believe gamblers of this sport are such a rare breed. One cannot be a true and dedicated fan of thoroughbred competition without some brains to back them up. It is hard work and a certain dedication to solving all of the inner-workings of the two minutes at hand can only be a successful venture if one dedicates the time and some raw brilliance. This to me is a main reason why you do not meet fellow horse players often on the street. It takes a certain type of individual to step their toes in it and it takes an even greater person to dive to the depths of it.
But here lies the even greater picture. This sport set its roots well over a century ago. The Kentucky Derby is the longest lasting sporting event in the history of our country. How can it be that a sport that is void of highly dedicated fans be so enduring? That answer lies with the “players” themselves and most likely is the reason for the dedicated fans that we do have in the first place. The players of course are the horses themselves. There could not be a person alive that upon first glance of a thoroughbred horse that wouldn’t be totally captivated by its splendor.
But even greater is the idea that an animal with such size and power can be trained by a human to enter a gate and have the presence of mind to want to be first across that wire. I do not believe that every single horse has that presence of mind and therefore sets a certain few far and above the rest. In many cases a horse has the breeding to do magnificent things, but if he does not have the will and spirit to adhere to his trainers commands, he will never become what he was born to do. This is yet another piece of the puzzle that horse-players need to untangle as well. To the casual viewer, all horses are the same competitors but to dedicated gamblers, that could not be further than the truth.
All of us here at The Dirty Horse Club have their own reasons for their love and dedication to this sport. That one special reason, be it a horse who captivated you or a loved one long gone who introduced you, or just plain hitting a 2 dollar Win bet when you were young and that thrill remained with you. I invite you tell us your reason for your love of this sport on this thread. As we approach the 2019 season, these reasons may possibly hit another’s heartstrings and call them into the sport that we here love so much.
I want to thank each and every member on our site and welcome in the new. Thank you for your contributions and insights into the magnificent Sport of Kings.
And so ends 2018, the Year of Justify and Accelerate and welcome in 2019, the year that will undoubtedly bring us the thrills and excitement that we have come to love from all the years past.
And also, a huge cheers to our magnificent and cherished horses. May they enjoy a year of health, success and longevity along with their fearless riders, the Jockeys.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Successful New Year!