Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Colony or birth of a gambler

The lovely beast above is one Pleasant Colony foaled this day 1978. His celebrated birthday, like all thoroughbreds is January 1st, but today was the day he came into this world. He was a late foal, and two days shy of his actual 3rd birthday when he galloped home a winner in the 1981 Kentucky Derby. About a month before that great triumph is when he entered my life. When I started this "hero of the day" blog idea he was one of the first heroes whose birthday I marked off. I did not even look at any other possible heroes for this day, because, in my mind, there could be no other. I have been writing this blog post in my mind since that day in August when I hatched the idea of a hero of the day, and I know that even now I won't be able to put everything I think or feel about him into words. After changing trainers (after a bad run of form), to a "fat guy from New York" named John Campo, he won the 1981 Wood Memorial. Nothing to it right? Well the reason he (and all of his children, grandchildren, etc) are, and will remain forever, my hero is that he was the FIRST horse I ever picked to win a race. I was a grand total of 11 years old, and was sitting in my grandmother's living room with my (gambling) uncle. I picked Pleasant Colony to win and he did, my uncle turned to me and said "boy when you get old enough I am taking you to the track." I am pretty sure he did, though that memory has been lost to me. Either way on May 2nd, 1981 there I was again glued to granny's TV to watch Pleasant Colony bolt through the middle of the field, take the lead, and win by 3/4 of length over Woodchopper at odds of 13-1, (watch for yourself here http://www.kentuckyderby.com/history/year/1981). Needless to say, I was (and remain) in love with this horse. He wasn't much to look at, he was a bit scrawny (but 17 hands high), his ears drooped, and his ribs stuck out, but he had the heart of a champion. I watched when he, as the 3-2 favourite, beat Bold Ego in the Preakness by a full length (after a grueling stretch run), and I was there to watch the second weekend in June when it all came crashing down. That weekend was the Belmont, a mile and a half marathon that caps the Triple Crown trail. He was the 4-5 favourite, and I was happily thinking that we were about to have a Triple Crown winner, and he was going to be my horse. However, some New York cunt threw fireworks near him before he loaded in the gate, and my belief to this day, is that act of stupidity upset him, and cost him the race. He finished third behind Summing, and Highland Blade, two horse for which I harbour eternal hatred. He lost the Triple Crown by 1 and a half lengths, and my 11 year old heart was broken, and in some way it still is. I realize it is stupid to admit/write that, but it is true. A small part of me (maybe not that small) has never gotten over that loss. It was perhaps one of the earliest instances of me seeing a hero fail. I took it hard, but I did not lose my love of the sport or of Pleasant Colony. To this day, if I see his name, or the name of any of his offspring, in a horse's pedigree I will place a wager on that horse. It usually does not work, but I remember the 31-1 shot Pleasant Home making me proud by winning the 2005 Breeder's Cup Distaff. I cashed that ticket, and said a thank you prayer to Pleasant Colony (a relative on the distaff side). I also remember my buddy, whom I talked out of placing a bet on Pleasant Home, because I explained the dumb reason behind my wager, being furious at me (and is to this day) about me screwing him out of a winner ticket. Pleasant Home, and by extension Pleasant Colony, bought a few rounds of drinks that night to make things better. In a way that was a healing of the wounds I suffered at the 1981 Belmont, I was never old enough to (financially) profit from my picking Pleasant Colony, but I like to think that he was looking down from horse heaven that day in 2005 (he had died in 2002 at the age of 24), and said "Inquisitor, I am going to pay your devotion to me and mine back," and he did. I know it is sappy, and I know it is silly to still be carrying a torch around for a) a horse, and b) a dead horse, but c) I unabashedly do, and do not give a fuck who knows. So, for coming in first that day in April, 1981, and winning my 11 year old heart forever, and I have long since forgiven him not winning that horrid day in June, 1981, Pleasant Colony (May 4th, 1978-December 31st, 2002, at the age of 24), you are my, and will remain, my (249th) hero of the day.

1 comment:

Cynnie said...

And now I love you :)