Thursday, July 21, 2011

Class is humming along (lots of work to do), figured out the (latest) blackboard problem, green beans are just on the cusp of being ready! This weekend will be Samsonville (yay! The pool!), but next weekend we are "splitting" the weekend because we are going to SPAC to see Bare Naked Ladies on Sunday. It's on my mind because when I bought the tickets I didn't think about it being "in season" (which lamentably is getting earlier and earlier every year). Ugh. Oh sure, the primary concern is the health of the horses and jockeys. Here's my post from this time last year, here's my post for Travers weekend last year (if you really do like horses, there are a couple of gorgeous pictures in the latter) and here's the story I mentioned from 1998:

Saratoga Summer

A horse died at Saratoga yesterday.  During a commercial break on television I heard of the story on a preview for Fox news at 10.  At 11, we watched the local CBS news, and there was no mention of it.  Today, I read the whole newspaper -- even the Sports section, which generally I reserve for immediate recycling, and could find not a word.  Oh, there was an article about pests at the race track -- bees, skunks, Canada geese -- upsetting the gamblers, and another about race announcing being a true art form, but nothing about the death of a horse.  A page of results, and odds, and payoffs, but no obituary.

Then again, it isn't really about the horses, is it?  Even in that annoying orange mini-page that the Times Union comes wrapped in every day during the month of August.  The speed of the horses and whether they are likely to win are discussed, but the important part is not the animal; it's being fast, and the outcome -- money invested, wagered, won or lost -- is the point.  The result for the slow, the lame, the "losers," auction and perhaps the slaughterhouse, is not mentioned.  And the paper doesn't refer to the people at the track as gamblers, as I did, does it?  They are called by the euphemisms "spectators" and "visitors."  They gush about how classy, how elite, how special it all is.

I think of the majestic horse, dying while the Capital Region thrills in the collective insanity which happens every August around here.  I think of my mother's eight horses who roam through the fields at the farm, their manes flying in the wind, a testament to the beauty and power of this magnificent animal.  I think of thirty-five-year old Olive, the great lady of that small herd, still going strong under a true horse lover's care.  And so I must reflect on that more famous horse, cut down in the prime of life, by a spectacle too cruel to be called a sport.

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