Throroughbred horse racing, the Sport of Kings; grand, classy, exciting...and a good excuse for a mint julip and a wager or two.
Years of careful breeding, specialized training, and practice go into crafting the perfect racing horse, and not a little luck! Horse, jockey, and trainer must learn to think as one, learn the subtle feel of every track, and anticipate the moves of all of their competition. And yet in the end it is the horse that must want to win, and the heart of a champion can beat out even the mightiest of horses. [image of Seabiscuit with jockey George Woolfe; wikimedia]
Such a moment may be with us today as we at the Cabaret travel to Pimlico Downs in Baltimore, Maryland, for a one-on-one duel between two already legendary champion thoroughbreds: 1937 Triple Crown champion War Admiral and that ultimate of Dark Horses, Seabiscuit. It's a classic tale of the underdog...err...horse.
War Admiral [pictured right; wikimedia], a powerful fast-starter trained by George Conway, is the horse they all knew would be a champion. Strong, fast, spirited, controlled. He dominated the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes (here at Pimlico!), and Belmont Stakes in New York, becoming only the fourth horse to claim the coveted Triple Crown. With veteran jockey Charles Kurtsinger, War Admiral is the expected favorite in this one-on-one matchup, where fast-breakers tend to dominate
By comparison, Seabuiscuit was the horse nobody wanted: undersized, knob-kneed, lazy, moody, hard to control, distractable. His early trainer "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons decided to focus his efforts on future 1935 Triple Crown champ Omaha and pawned the undersized, lazy horse on the unorthodox trainer Tom Smith. Under Smith's tutilage, Seabiscuit went from the butt of jokes to a race-dominating champion, earning thousands of dollars in handicap prise wins despite ever-increasing weights, and quickly becoming the horse to watch. Wishing to truly demonstrate the power and potential of this equestrian David, the owner challanged the Goliath War Admiral to today's race. Carefully trained using a bell to nullify War Admiral's fast start advantage, Smith thinks they can pull off the upset.
It's the Match of the Century!
And you're hearing it here on the Cabaret, folks! Here come the horses, both looking cool and confident. They're lining up at the starting line. Get your bets in now, folks!
And they're off!!
Aaaannnddd it's Seabuiscuit pulling ahead! Two lengths, three, four...Seabuiscuit is the winner, by four lengths!
A Cinderella story! The little horse nobody wanted has bested the Triple Crown champion!
And you heard it here!
(And Tony has just made a mint from his booky! Drinks on me, boys!)
Speaking of mint, it's time for that classic racing cocktail, the famous Mint Julip, official cocktail of Churchill Downs.
Mint Julip Cocktail:
[image from cocktailtimes.com]
Muddle mint leaves and sugar in a frosted glass or silver cup. Add bourbon and crushed ice. Stir well and garnish with a mint sprig.