The Fish

Real Quiet

He was this close to becoming a Triple Crown winner. Literally. Real Quiet, trained by Bob Baffert and rode by Kent Desormeaux, took home the trophy in 1998 to the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Both times a bay horse with a haunting name followed at second every time. This horse's name was Victory Gallop.

Baffert called his beautiful bay winner "The Fish." This was because from the side, Real Quiet looked like a big, muscular horse. If you looked at him straight on, he was sleek and narrow - like a barracuda. The trainer even won pins to all of his horse's races with a cartoon fish printed on them. However, on the day of the Belmont, the storybook tale of a horse coming out of the woodwork to win the first Triple Crown in over 15 years was not meant to be.

I summed up my feelings pretty well in this poem in tribute to my baby Real Quiet...

For the Love of a Horse

I have never loved a horse so much as I do this very day
When I saw him racing down the track and losing this vital fray
His eager expression and friendly face was a warm, endearing sight
Packed with an awkward body and heart full of might
For God seldom creates a horse with as much stamina as he
A bold spirit of oneness, who is gallant, swift, and free
I felt I was with him as he was galloping down the track
With his arch-nemesis following close behind, coming out from the pack
My hero was well ahead, it looked certain he would win this race
But I guess that this simply was not the case
Then the enemy caught up with frightening speed
And as much as I screamed and urged, he did not give much heed
They were neck-and-neck as they neared the line
I was almost certain that his victory would be mine
As they crossed the finish, I drew in my breath
That was the closest race I had ever witnessed
I felt like my heart beat in that courageous young horse's breast
And it had been laid on the line to beat this cursed test
When the results came in, and the photo-finish shown,
I felt like my heart had broken and my wishes thrown
It was, in fact, a nose that had beaten my trusted friend
Whom I had given my heart and soul for him to lend
And as he loped past the winner's circle ground,
He still looked the same perky, youthful horse, and maybe even a little sound
And I love that horse even more each minute that scene through my mind goes past
I know the power and will of his soul, that he is swift, fluid, and fast
That thoroughbred, though we never met, is my inspiration, my soulmate, my friend
And I just wish that I could have helped him through this tragic, unlucky end.

In fact, the race was so close, hardly anybody knew who had won the race. Some said Real Quiet had held it out, but other said that Victory Gallop had caught him. Even the jockeys were unsure of the outcome. However, the fate of the two horses was revealed by this photo finish...

And so they say sometimes things just aren't meant to be... But still, why couldn't this have been one of the exceptions? As I say, Thoroughbred racing is a drama in itself.. as thrilling and emotional as a daytime soap opera. But that's life, isn't it? ;~)

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