Jamie Reidy comments on the devastating news that Triple Crown threat I’ll Have Another will not run the Belmont Stakes.
I attended my first Kentucky Derby in 2004; that’s the “Smarty Jones” Derby, as it’s known. I bet on him and, standing in a box on the rail along first turn, I had the privilege of watching Smarty sprint at us, so far ahead it seemed the other horses had given up.
Six weeks later, I sat on the edge of my bed in a New Orleans hotel room watching the Belmont Stakes. Smarty Jones had the race won, until he didn’t. I wanted to cry – for him, for his owners, for race fans.
Today, everyone associated with racing should cry.
ESPN reports that Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another will not run tomorrow in the Belmont Stakes:
I’ll Have Another’s bid for a Triple Crown ended Friday morning with the shocking news that the chestnut colt was out of the Belmont Stakes because of a swollen left front tendon.
I am not a horse racing expert. But I have been to eight of the past nine Kentucky Derbies. I’m a look-good-in-seer-sucker expert. On the Friday before Derby, my two pals and I looked at the roster of horses and declared, “I’ll Have Another is a lock.” And then we cheers-ed our bourbon drinks. I mean, if EVER a horse had my money all over it, this was it. (fyi: I am known to have a cocktail or twelve.)
But then I got distracted by my “bet $2 on every 20-1 and higher Derby entrant” theory. For the uninitiated, when you bet at the track, you don’t use the horse’s name; you say it’s number. So, as I rattled off the long shots’ numbers, I forgot the no-brainer plan to bet $10 (five times the normal bet) on I’ll Have Another. I could feel the people behind me at the betting window cursing me (Note: there is no corroboration of that). So, I took no time to review my list; I simply scurried away from the betting window.
And seethed all night as my iPhone blew up with texts and emails from friends who know I’ll be at the Derby every first Saturday in May for the rest of my life. “I know YOU bet on “I”ll Have Another, Reidy!”
Of course, my two buddies followed our plans and won money.
Post-race, I did have some good fortune: Cris Collinsworth, the former NFL star and current NBC Sunday Night Football analyst, walked down the ramp ahead of us. Classy as always, I sprinted ahead and accosted Mr. Collinsworth. Thrusting a business card with my new book’s info – A Walk’s As Good As A Hit: Advice/Threats from My Old Man
written on the back (Amatuer, table for one?), I explained that I had attended the University of Notre Dame, the same school his son Austin represents each Saturday in the fall sporting # 28.
Cris, ever the gentleman,took my card and said, “I’m gonna check this out!” What he meant, my Derby-bet-winning-friends assured me, was, “I’m gonna alert Notre Dame and NBC security!”
I missed my Derby lock. And now I, along with hundreds of thousands of real horse racing fans, don’t get to cheer on I’ll Have Another tomorrow.
GMP readers, what’s your biggest sporting disappointment?