Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dashed Dreams: Nothing New to Writers

In addition to being a writer, I also have another side business. My husband and I breed and raise Thoroughbred horses. Nothing on a big scale. We're just a little "Mom and Pop operation." So you can probably understand why I'm deep in the doldrums of another year of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown being within the grasp of a great horse...only to once again see it fall through the cracks like spent fairy dust.

In the weeks leading up to the the Kentucky Derby--the first of three races to earn the Triple Crown-- it seemed like a Cinderella story of the nth degree was unfolding. California Chrome rose from the ranks of obscurity to win race after race brilliantly, a $10,000 investment who took on the millionaires--and beat the britches off them. A champion who hailed, not from the hallowed hills of Kentucky, but from California's central valley, with an obscure sire and a dam who had only won one minor race, two owners who were newbies to the game, a jockey who had already been denied a past Triple Crown win, and a trainer who had never come close to getting a horse all the way to The Derby before.

California Chrome drew Secretariat's post position in the Kentucky Derby. And he won commandingly. The buzz began to grow.

He drew Secretariat's post position in the Preakness, and again, he won convincingly. The buzz became a roar.

It was an omen, right?

It seemed the stars had, indeed, aligned.

The Force was strong in this one!

Just one more race to go to grab that elusive crown: The mighty, mighty Belmont Stakes. A grueling mile-and-a-half distance--one of the longest in flat racing. He was training spectacularly leading up to the race, and described as running "like a monster."

In a photo snapped during one of those works last week, California Chrome's pose mirrored the statue of the legendary Secretariat that stands in the Belmont Park saddling paddock. And once again, he drew Secretariat's post position in the last leg.

Now it seemed more than a mere omen.

It was a sign--a sign that this, at long last, was the horse we'd been waiting for. Few people had any doubt he would win it all and become the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years. Many were even whispering that other "S" word.


And he truly looked and was that horse.

Until the moment he lost.

Once again the big dream crashed and burned.

While I was moping about post-race on Saturday with that terrible, sinking feeling in my belly, I realized this was not a new emotion to me. I'd been there before. Many, many times.

It's not so different being a writer, que no?

Yes, we're all survivors of the long campaign. Battle-hardened veterans of the War of Disappointments and Denials. Victims of the highs of *almost* achieving the dream, only to have it ripped away.

The upside? And yes, there is one.

The upside is that there will always be another shot, another chance, another long as we keep trying.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Just grit your teeth and run your race.

Have a great week.


  1. I'll always consider Sea Biscuit as the greatest race horse of all time. What a great story he had as well. The ugly little horse who could.

  2. Never give up. Never surrender.

  3. Right, Pippa. :)

    Marva, Seabiscuit was one of my favorites too. He was another great from California. (One of the names they put in the hat when naming California Chrome was Sea Bisquick. As a tribute, I suppose?)

    An interesting thing about the great match race with War Admiral is that Seabiscuit and WA were related. War Admiral was a son of Man O War. Seabiscuit was his grandson.

  4. So sorry about the disappointment, Laurie. Reminds me of those nights of Golden Heart and RITA awards ceremonies. Yeah, it's an honor just to be nominated -- I don't say that tongue-in-cheek, because it is. But gah, it's a good thing there's always a bar within strolling distance at the end of those things.

    On a side note, I'm super excited about my little namesake. :)

  5. Oh, Sharon, that's a perfect analogy. Yes, it was that After-the-Golden-Heart-ceremony kind of feeling exactly. An overwhelming disappointment that eventually is followed by a sigh and, "Well. There's always next year."

    The best cure for disappointment is to continue striving. I don't remember who first said it, but I really love this saying: If you quit, you'll never know how close you were to success.


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