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Special Place


There is a place in heaven

Carefully set aside

For eleven wonder horses

Whom no person again will ever ride

In this hallowed place, the champions

Run free

Together in breath-taking motion,

Together, in harmony.

Many horses have tried to make it as far

As they had

But way too often, the cheering fans in the grandstands

Would turn away, sad

Eleven is the magic number, and there it

May stay.

For so few number of horses could be like them,

And take your breath away.


The trend started in 1919, the very first time

A new kind of horse made a spectacle sublime

Sir Barton was this grand stallion's name

Winning the first Triple Crown was his claim to fame.

Second came Gallant Fox, eleven years later to the draw

Five after that sounded the battle cry of Omaha.

Famous blood entered the track proceeding two years,

The offspring of praised Man O' War, War Admiral brought many tears

Of joy, naturally, as he raced past finish line times three

Following him came something we'll probably never again see

Four three-race winners in the forties era, of which all still yet have their fame to dim

In 1941 was celebrated Whirlaway, with his long, beautiful tail flowing right behind him.

A mere year passed without a true hero to meet

Then, the next May came a mentor in Count Fleet.

Three years went by, as they often do,

And there came a new

Champion to the scene, going by Assault

If his memory ever fades, it is the next horse's fault

The track didn't matter, the weather made no difference, he was one with the world

His name was Citation, and at the three tracks his talents unfurled.

History thought there would never be another horse to take that one's place

It seemed true; twenty-five years slithered by without a horse with such grace

The Thoroughbred racing world needed a savior, a hero to call their own

America herself needed a champion, when the mighty Secretariat took his throne

He smashed all three records (if you ask me) with his hearty, ground-eating jaunt

We shall never forget that spectacular day he finished with a 31-length victory at Belmont.

Four years passed,

Secretariat's memory still heavy and steadfast,

When Seattle Slew took center stage,

The tenth Triple Crown winner, ending history's first page

The very next year gave us a double-dose of fun:

A near neck-and-neck performance between Affirmed and Alydar, with Affirmed three times winning number one.

And there it still stands, history remains frozen

Eleven remains the number, until another Great is chosen.


There on an open field, their spirits run free

Where they can all race together, a place so wide-open, as far as the eye can see.

On special weekends, some Derby winners get their chance

To race against these powerful champions, like Swaps versus Omaha, for instance.

Oh, yes, there are Sundays, when non-Derby winners run

Sometimes one can catch Man O' War racing Secretariat (although I won't say who won!)

There are always spots left open there for a beloved living soul

For those former heroes, whose days have taken their toll.

Many of the Greats, now in heaven, wonder what might have been

If America's retired Cigar had entered the Derby pen.

Those very same champions always keep watch over promising new blood,

From the wobbly newborn foals to the determined two-year-olds, practicing in the mud.

And hopefully, one day, a Great will spot a prancing youngster, joyfully galloping under the moon

One that holds deep promise of a by-gone era; hopefully someday soon.



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