I am in a strange business - I have a strange life in that my livelihood depends (when greatly over simplified) on the selection and management of large four-legged animals that seek to run faster than some other large four-legged animals. Some falter in this task and others excel.
One that definitely excels is a big bay two-year-old colt we have named Aikenite, in honor of our lovely headquarters' town of Aiken, South Carolina. He's a hell of a good racehorse. At this moment you'd have to think that Aikenite is surely one of the top ten horses - two-year-olds that is - in the United States. Right now he's in Florida preparing for the Triple Crown campaign.
He faced the best in the world when he ran in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He broke like a shot, glided easily into the first turn in third position, maybe a length and a half out of it. Then, after a half that was run in :49 and change (just crawling), the jockey, for some strange reason, decided to give back what had been given to him and he dragged the colt back about three or four lengths. Now Aikenite's sitting behind a slow pace, and when they turned for home and he kicked, the front runners had enough to hold him off and he was fifth, but only beaten two and a half lengths. It was a very good race.
There's a lot of shoulda,woulda, coulda's in our game, and the usual reason a horse doesn't win a race is that he can't run fast enough. That is not the case with Aikenite. The frustrating thing about our business is receiving comments from laymen when a horse does not win.
In this case of course, all of Aiken (as you can imagine) was behind him, and while 90 percent of the fans understood the situation, you get a few comments that drive you up the wall. One guy said, "I saw that number nine run and it just couldn't keep up." Grrrrrr… Another, "That old horse needed a burr under his saddle cloth." Ughhhhh….
If I was a spectator at their child's defeat in a track meet and I said, "That kid needs to get the lead out of his pants," what sort of reaction do you think I'd get?
There is to me, and most all other true horsemen, nothing more thrilling and inspiring and exciting as a genuine Thoroughbred racehorse. But we're in a game if you win a fifth of the time you better be happy, so we have to be used to defeats - and all the good ones are defeated, from time to time.
With that goes dealing with the shoulda, coulda, woulda's, and all the clueless, tactless, well-meant spectators that comment so irritatingly.
This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.