Yesterday was different. You were back to your old self. I know it’s been a tough year. Trying to find something nice that’s been said or written about you has been a challenge. I’m sure there will be those who will find fault with yesterday, but not me. Others will interpret the quality of yesterday’s races or discount the chances in the Breeders’ Cup of those who passed through your winner’s circle, but don’t feel bad. It’s what they do.
Super Saturday embodies everything that’s great about racing. It rivals any card, anywhere, without the endurance and patience required to make it through the Triple Crown or Breeders’ Cup cards. The eclectic crowd that always shows up creates a whole other level of memories beyond the races themselves. Remember last year when I told you about the guy wearing a cape?
I didn’t see him this year, but to be fair, yesterday wasn’t exactly cape weather. I did see this guy, though.
I also got to see some of the moments that rarely make it onto TV, but are what makes Super Saturday such a great experience. Like the kid standing by the paddock who asked everyone who walked by if they could get John Velazquez to sign his hat. Mostly, he was brushed off and essentially told to hope for the best. But the one person who stopped was the man himself, even though he had just won a Grade 1 and was minutes away from winning another. That’s class.
Then there was another kid who was perched on her father’s shoulders and made a point of saying hi to every horse as they walked around the paddock. “Hi Tapizar. Hi Trickmeister. Hi Jersey Town….” They’ll never confess to it, but a few hardened horseplayers eventually noticed her and started chuckling.
You’re right. It’s odd that the two stories I’m mentioning involve children. We both know I hate them for the most part. But you’re good with them and they like you. That’s really what’s more important.
But Super Saturday comes down to the races, and once again you didn’t disappoint. Royal Delta…what can you say? I knew she was good – really good – and even the race chart reads more eloquently than anything I’ve read in a long time. Her race was one of those rare moments of greatness that need to be savored.
The funny thing is, those moments always seem to happen on Super Saturday, and for that I thank you.
Whether Point of Entry is the best U.S. turf horse in recent years will likely be debated ad nauseum for the next five weeks. I hope he is. He’s been so exciting to watch all summer and had every reason not to win yesterday. But he did.
It was also nice to see you and Flat Out together again. Things change every year, but seeing him making the walk into your winners’ circle again brought back memories of last year. Good memories. The two of you are great together and I hope that relationship continues.
I’m not going to lie, the next year is probably going to suck for you. People are going to write and say bad things, and you’ll be fending off attacks from all directions. I hope you get that Triple Crown. I hope people who’ve never walked through your gates get to experience the magic of a day at the races at the best track in America. Whatever happens, though, I’ll stick with you.
My feelings for you were best stated by someone else. “You’re the best around, nothing’s gonna keep you down.”
Joe Esposito may have written these words for the Karate Kid but they seem especially applicable to you. I hope our paths cross before next September, but I guarantee we’ll do this again next year. I hope you look forward to it as much as I do.