Friday, June 6, 2008

The Near Misses: Smarty Jones 2004

Smarty was a freak. After watching his prep races, I was a bit ahead of the curve on this and bet him across the board at Churchill on Derby Day. I even drunkenly pointed to him when the horses walked from the paddock yelling "There's the winner- he's a freak!" to anyone who would listen. Smarty romped in the Derby and again in the Preakeness, and looked every bit as much of a "damn near sure thing" for the Triple Crown as BIG BROWN does this year.

But in a bizarre and still discussed race, it didn't work out. Whether the other jockeys went out of their way to push their horses to cook Smarty and themselves in the process, or whether Smarty was rank that day and couldn't settle, or whether jockey Stewart Elliott fucked up and didn't settle him and moved him way too early, or what, the horse gave absolutely everything and fought bravely to valiantly hold on as long as possible after giving so much early, but couldn't hold on and was overtaken by 36-1 BIRDSTONE in the final 1/16 of a mile.

Sucked, really bummed me out. I got on board the fairy tale story of SMARTY JONES {almost dying, coming back to win the Derby and Preakness and be undefeated, with really everyman connections and a heartwarming story of a dying owner} earlier than most and was really invested emotionally like I was with SILVER CHARM {as silly as that sounds now to write, it's hard to explain}.

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