Run for the Roses

Kim loved the Derby.

She loved all of the triple crown races but it started with the Kentucky Derby.

That’s where she’d do her research.

She’d read up on the horses and jockeys. She’d reacquaint herself with owners’ and trainers’ names and prepare for the short season.

She loved the Preakness because that was the race to see if the horse that won the Derby could repeat.

She loved the Belmont because by then she knew the characters and was tuning in for a series finale. There was always drama. Would the winner of the Derby and Preakness win the triple crown? If the winners of the Derby and Preakness were different horses and entered in the Belmont, would this third race settle something?

The first race was slightly longer than the second and slightly shorter than the third.

Kim would start the morning by reading the paper to check in on the condition of the field and to make her selection.

She’d pour us each a cup of coffee and come into the living room with the sports section to look over the field one more time.

She smile and start singing Dan Fogelberg’s “Run for the Roses.”

I loved Kim but she really couldn’t sing. She couldn’t carry a tune and she couldn’t always  remember the words. She knew the words to this one and would put down my coffee and hold her hand in front of her mouth like a microphone and sing –

“And it’s run for the roses
As fast as you can
You fate is delivered
(Something Something) at hand.”

“Something, something?” I’d ask.

“Yeah,” she’d smile.

Then she’d open the paper and study the horses.

“Who do you like?” I’d ask.

And she’d tell me. Sometimes it was for a good reason and sometimes it was just for the name of the horse.

This year I think she’d choose “Irish War Cry” but I could also see it being “Thunder Snow” since both Maggie and Elena had “Snow” in their Chinese names.

She’d pick up her imaginary microphone and sing,

“It’s breeding and it’s training
And it’s something unknown
That drives you
And carries you home”

Then she’d ask, “who are you choosing?”

She’d hold the microphone out to me as if interviewing me.

I’d have looked at the list because I knew the question was coming. We each had to have a horse before post time. I know nothing about horse racing but might recognize a jockey or a stable or a name might catch my fancy.

On years that I was traveling on Derby Day we would have this discussion over the phone.

The race always seems to start way later than I remember and last way shorter. The coverage begins hours before with feel-good stories about owners, trainers, and jockeys so that we are emotionally involved.

Some years Kim would watch all of the coverage. Most years she’d be in the back yard gardening and come in around six with plenty of time to go before they were off.

One year Kim, Maggie, and I were at Disney World for a meeting that I was invited to. We ate dinner and still had time to take the monorail back to our hotel room to see the race. We watched the replay a couple of times and then headed out to another park.

It feels weird that this event that Kim loved just goes on.

These things that mean so much to us don’t know anything about us.

I’ll watch in an hour – I listen to Dan Fogelberg sing his hit. The tune is a bit different than Kim’s and he knows all of his lyrics.

It turns out, it’s not “Something, Something,” it’s,

“Your fate is delivered
Your moment’s at hand
It’s the chance of a lifetime
In a lifetime of chance
And it’s high time you joined
In the dance”

I look at Kimmy’s picture and play that part over again.

It’s about the Derby and it’s not about the Derby.

It’s about these three minutes once a year where we watch a group of three year olds run around a track.

And it’s not.

It’s about those many times that can pass us by if we let them in this lifetime of chance.

It’s a reminder to join in the dance.

Published in: on May 6, 2017 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment