Millions of people enjoy horse racing, and they get their pleasure from different sources and in different forms. Some from gambling. Some from intimate physical contact with the animal. Boardroom giants like the challenge of entering the game and trying to conquer it. This is not a good idea, by the way, for a precious few do conquer it… but the making of plans to do it is pleasurable. There are those who are attracted by social status that comes with saying you own racehorses. There are those who simply need an injection of a little zest in drab lives.
Not enough credit is given to the anticipation angle of horse racing.
Now, I admit I am one who is enormously optimistic. In the morning I eagerly look forward to the night. That night I dwell on the fact that tomorrow morning is sure to be wonderful. If there is X amount of pleasure to be derived from a situation, I probably get 60 percent of X from looking forward to the event, maybe 10 percent from the event per se, and 30 percent from reflecting on what happened. If what happened was good, that is. If it was bad, then I wipe it out of my mind, after trying to figure out how it can be fixed next time. Because I sure as hell don't dwell on it.
But I think most people don't give enough credit to - or even realize - the significant pleasure they get out of anticipation. It doesn't make much difference where the pleasure comes from or how it is apportioned, as long as you glean all there is to get.
Think of this scenario. A guy buys a yearling in September. He's all atwitter about this lovely colt that could run in - and even win - the Kentucky Derby. He follows his progress all fall and winter during the breaking process, hears how well the young colt moves, what class he demonstrates, and how splendidly he has furnished out physically. His mind lands upon this happy horse racing venture several times every day - every day! - often offsetting the unrelated glitches that occur in everyday normal life. In the spring, his colt is sent off to the races, and the happy anticipation intensifies. For months he has told his long-suffering friends about this thrilling undertaking. Summer comes, and the young horse is put in the entries. Now the excitement is feverish. The colt runs…badly, does not beat a horse! Crushingly disappointing, of course. The owner has a bad night. But if he has the same mental processes that most of us in the horse racing game have, the poor performance is soon justified, and future adjustments put him back on a happy track. And there is more pleasant anticipation.
If he does not get back on the happy track, he should not be in horse racing. Let's say he sells the horse, leaves the game in disgust. The fact remains that he has benefited from months of hope and cheery thoughts of anticipation, and - despite his current disillusionment - the balance of positive and negative is heavily weighted on the side of positive. Many owners do not stop to weigh the importance of anticipation, and what net gain it has contributed to their lives.
All this leads me to a slight tangent - that moment when anticipation becomes reality in a horse race. Two scenarios: the first is when around the half-mile pole you see your horse begin to lose ground. At first you send the desperately hopeful message to your brain that maybe the rider is giving him a breather. About a sixteenth of a mile later a more realistic message: "This ain't no breather."
Then there is an indescribably delicious moment. Around the eighth, or sixteenth, pole, when you hit the front and you are sure that the driving finish is such that on this day you will not be denied. It is at that moment - and perhaps a little before - that it is time to scream… bloody murder, in my case. There is an art to screaming at a sporting event, and to enjoy the event properly it should be done. But I have a friend who, when the horse is being engulfed by the rest of the field, begins bellowing encouragement that is ridiculously futile. When there is a legitimate shot, scream. And scream like hell. There is nothing unseemly about it. It is cathartic. You deserve it, and there is nothing like it!
In the meantime, enjoy the anticipation.
This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.