Horse Races in Heaven
Animal Kingdom vs Shackleford
Did you see Shackleford win the Preakness in May 2011? Did you see how hard Animal Kingdom battled to win? He came from the very rear of the race. Who couldn’t help but feel the rush of happiness to see Animal Kingdom try to push his way to the front? And what was that other feeling, sort of indescribable, when Shackleford was neck in neck with Animal Kingdom the last few lengths? What was that feeling? Was it pure awe?
1973 Triple Crown
Seabiscuit was the first race horse I saw – or thought I saw. After watching the movie, I bought the book to learn about the real Seabiscuit of the late 1930's.
Secretariat was the next horse movie I saw. In 1973, the real Secretariat won The Triple Crown. It was the 9th Triple Crown and the first in 25 years. His jockey was Ron Turcotte. There have been television specials and videos made of that historic day. It was the Belmont Stakes. Seventy thousand fans showed up to watch Secretariat run, many of whom had never been to a horse race before and did not bet on horses. His owner, Penny Chenery, said, "He just felt like running that day."
Secretariat’s biographer, William Nack, during an interview for the CBS video Secretariat, Part 2 , saw the horse early in the morning before the race. Nack had actually slept beside a tree trunk to be close to Secretariat's stable door. Nack's description of how Secretariat was walking and acting before the race is amazing. The video Secretariat, A Moment in Eternity also has amazing statements in it. These are the tributes that men utter when they feel they have been in the presence of greatness.
One video producer captioned a screen: “Herein lies a moment to which no one has expression.” The man calling out the race exclaimed at the time, “This is the most sensational Belmont Stakes in the history of the race.”
Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes in 2.24 minutes which broke the record. He ran so fast that he won by 31 lengths which had never been done before and hasn't since. Many were afraid as he raced at full speed such a long distance that he would collapse and die of a heart attack.
I had only seen two race-horse movies in my lifetime, Seabiscuit and Secretariat, when I saw the newspaper article regarding the Preakness race won by Shackleford. I had never heard of Shackleford. Out of curiosity, I found a video of the race online. I sat in awe, watching it again and again.
I am not a fan of gambling. I would not bet on a horse race. But I am drawn to the horses’ strength and intelligence. I see those regal horses running and racing with such determination that I cannot help wonder. They might allow man to herd them this way and that – such as when several men had to push Shackleford into the starting gate at the Preakness. But these race horses do not race due to man’s insistence. They race because they want to win -- or more to the point -- they do not want their opponents to win.
I believe the scriptures which speak of the eternal nature of the animals. I look forward to the privilege of watching these beautiful creatures one day where there are no starting gates, no starting bells and nobody is betting money. These magnificent horses will race when and whom they want to race.
A Moment of Eternity, video title.
Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral 1938
White horse and small horse in field: From Photobucket. http://media.photobucket.com/image/horses/jess4
© 2011 Pamela Dapples