For some sad reason I can’t seem to shake, my mind keeps hearkening back to the Monday after Derby in ’68. I was sitting in the Cardinal Inn, when a friend came in, breathless with the news that Dancer’s Image, the horse that crossed the finish line first, tested positive for drugs.
Well that soap opera lasted a lot longer than the Pitino/ Karen Sypher one will. Hearings and law suits and innuendo, etc, etc, etc. Eventually the juiced horse was DQed and Forward Pass named the official winner of that race. Infamous “Derby Doc” Alex Harthill was in the middle of the whole mess. For years, he was the “go to” vet when a trainer needed to get a less than fit horse ready for a race. Even the Derby obviously.
(Harthill’s rep was so tarnished that he was banned from the Fairgrounds Race Track in New Orleans, where pretty much anything used to be fair game at any time.)
But I prattle on. The point is this. Mine That Bird’s win on Saturday was so improbable, so inexplicable, so off the charts that, in this day and age when there’s a conspiracy around every corner — or turn for home — many horse race lovers are wondering just how this horse won the race?
Listen carefully. There is nary a scintilla of evidence nor rumor nor innuendo that there was the slightest bit of chicanery involved in Mine That Bird’s win. None. Zero. And, heavens, I certainly hope not. And I don’t mean to imply anything. This win — the owners, the jockey, the whole schmear — is simply a great story, a sterling addition to Derby lore so grand one wishes Jim Bolus were still here to chronicle the tale.
But the reality is that legit horse people are asking questions. In hushed tones, of course. They look at that charge down the stretch and those fractions, and wonder how a horse could improve so much so fast? I have heard the talk. And so I present it.
As I said, I pray my fears are simply the absurd ruminations of a guy with a keyboard and access to WordPress. Nothing more. But I know that more than a few horse lovers, myself included, will be breathing a sigh of relief when all the tests are in and prove negative.
– Seedy K