All right, Mr. Big, you now have my full and undivided attention. Not only did you prove that you deserved the hype before the Kentucky Derby, you’ve succeeded in building an imposing mystique around your huge physique. You won the Derby coming from post 20, which no horse has done since a starting gate amounted to a piece of string; you won the race after staying on the outside of the herd and blowing away to a four and three-quarter length victory; and you’re the first Derby winner to scare off practically all of the other Derby contenders to enter the Preakness since Citation in 1948. Citation, in case you weren’t aware, was America’s eighth Triple Crown winner. One of eleven.
Though your trainer, Rick Dutrow, isn’t happy about racing you in the Preakness Stakes with only a two-week layoff, you’ve got to be feeling pretty good about yourself right now. You’re unbeaten in four starts, something no Derby winner since Regret in 1915 could’ve boasted by this point, and by the looks of how easily you ate up that talented Derby field, you’re a shoe-in for the Triple Crown.
Now, I don’t want to give you a big head or anything (though I hear it’s too late for that), but I just wanted to bring to light that if you’d been on the rail for the whole of the Derby, your margin of victory would probably have been by over ten lengths. I know, that mustn’t feel very significant for you, since before the Derby you were regularly winning by at least five lengths with each race. But in the Kentucky Derby, that’s something very special. You’ve competed against the best assembled contenders possible for this point and time, and you picked them off like appetizers on the way to a bigger feast.
Unless Recapturetheglory suddenly sprouts wings, I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t win the Preakness Stakes. Every other horse entering Pimlico’s greatest race has been beaten well by those you’ve already put to the test. It will be a field of leftovers: horses who don’t deserve to lick the dirt from your glued-on shoes. Just don’t get boxed in, and please don’t get hurt, and you’ve got it made.
And about the Triple Crown. I know everyone likes to speculate and dream the next Kentucky Derby winner can accomplish this most difficult feat to achieve in all of sports, but kid, you’ve got talent. We, your loyal horseracing public, may not have seen a horse with your raw ability for many a year. The way you scoffed at that field of hopefuls was not only monstrous (you’ve now earned the title of “freak,” I’m sure you must be aware of by now), but soul-enriching for a fan such as myself. Watching you begin to unroll that tremendous stride at the top of the final turn was victory in motion. I had no doubt about it. With that commanding move, you captured our hearts.
You see, we’ve been waiting years for another Triple Crown winner. A Messiah to the sport, if you will. The last Triple Crown was won in 1978 by Affirmed … that’s right, exactly thirty years ago. Now, I’m not trying to pressure you or anything, but that’s a nice round number, don’t you think? After all, the biggest slump between Crowns before this was the twenty-five year gap between Citation and Secretariat. You know, Big Red? The drought has been long, and as I have never witnessed a live Triple Crown winner with my own two eyes, I am edging on disbelief that the feat can ever be accomplished again. It seems my generation is not worthy of such greatness. But I think now more than ever, the public needs somebody pure to believe in. And I know you’re not perfect. You’re healing from quarter cracks in your hoofs, your pedigree completely decries all you’ve already accomplished, and you apparently are an Alpha Male type. Well, that’s all right with me. Because beyond all those things, you’ve got incredible heart.
Go Get’em, Mr. Big,