Reflecting on the 2009 Kentucky Derby-Who’s Your Jockey?

J Philip Faranda May 4, 2009

I was working all day Saturday and didn’t get to see the Kentucky Derby; my wife replayed it for me this morning on DVR. For those of you who ran track or perhaps participated in rowing in college as I did, you’ll know that races involve more than speed; they require strategy. The basic underpinning of any strategy is belief. The horse could not have won without jockey Calvin Borel, who absolutely believed in him. 

A few observations on the race:

  • In a 2:02 race, the announcer didn’t speak the name of the winner until about 1:55.
  • Mine That Bird, the 2009 Derby Champion, came back from about 8th place from my observation in the final quarter of the race. The final quarter.  And he won in a blowout. 
  • The horse was either too stupid or too fast (or maybe just too BUSY) to realize it was customary to bail out with a deficit that large. My vote is busy. 
  • The jockey absolutely believed the horse was capable of winning or he wouldn’t have dangerously pushed it through a crowded field on the inside rail. 
  • There was a small opening that was exploited. 
  • Once that horse got the lead, it’s energy was limitless.
  • The horse’s entry in the race was a 50-1 afterthought.  
Sometimes, circumstances are irrelevant to a sufficiently determined soul. They transcend “facts” with some time-honored winning habits. Show up. Get busy. Grind it out. Believe. Look for opportunities and give them your all. Believe. Don’t read your own headlines. Believe, and surround yourself with people of like minds. Eventually, like the final part of the race, you can pull away.
Sometimes we might be short of money. Or in a crowded field vying for a listing. We might be the victim of an unscrupulous competitor (as I almost was the other night). We might feel impossibly behind. Yet there are those of us every day who do their own rendition of Rocky, the 1978 Yankees, or Mine that Bird and finish first regardless of where we started. 
Believe, work, and associate with other believers. That’s what I take from this race. 

 

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