Monday, April 16, 2012
A love letter
By Amanda Duckworth
Special to ESPN.com
As I caught sight of you through the crowd this weekend, it occurred to me that we've been in each other's lives for 10 years now. Hard to believe, right?
For what it is worth, you wear the extra decade well. You've had work done, of course. We all know that. But on Saturday you looked your best, seemingly without an ounce of trying.
While weaving my way through a sea of bodies to get to you, I couldn't help but reminisce a bit. We've seen some nice horses, you and I. Champions even. We saw one on Saturday. Even though Hansen lost, his beauty is undeniable.
Of course, of the horses we have seen together, you know who my favorite might be? Another gray, but not another champion.
Do you remember him? Probably not. My memory is hazy now, but I would swear he wore a nylon halter instead of a fancy leather one. And I really want to say it was purple. I think that is why I fell in love with him. Well, that and his name.
He had his glory moment in 2003. Sure it was just an allowance race, but he won. I was so excited I was beside myself. It was the second and last victory of his career. He continued to earn his keep though. Retired with earnings of $114,046. He's been off the track now for eight years. Can you believe it? I hope he is living a good life.
My parents send their love, by the way, along with their regrets that they couldn't see you this spring. My mom ordered I eat some of your bread pudding for her though. Sometimes a daughter has to do what a daughter has to do.
I think some of my old college friends are hoping to swing by next weekend. Even though horse racing isn't really their thing, they love you. Of course, seemingly everyone does. You are like chocolate
l I know there are people out there that don't like chocolate, but it boggles the mind. And I don't entirely trust them.
Did you know that when we were in college we joked that if you were available all of us would be tempted to marry you? Silly I know. But you are gorgeous, well respected, well liked, and rich. If anything, I hear grumbles that you are too popular, especially with the college crowd. What a problem to have.
By the way, I know we have a standing engagement come the fall, but I am going to have to cancel on part of it this year. It's for a good reason, I promise.
Remember when my childhood friends came to visit all those years ago? That picture a kindly stranger took of us, along with my college roommates, still has a place of honor on my dresser. What are the odds three of the six girls in the photo would be natural redheads? Anyway, the redhead in the middle is getting married and I am her maid of honor.
She hadn't even met him when that picture was taken. Time, it is a fleeting thing.
Speaking of time, I know you are busy so I will wrap this up. Just for kicks I looked up what the traditional gift for a 10th anniversary is supposed to be. Tin and/or aluminum. How exciting.
While weaving my way through a sea of bodies to get to you, I couldn't help but reminisce a bit.
Of course, I won't actually buy you a gift because you are not actually a person. You are a racetrack. And this weekend, at age 76, you were more popular than ever. Records fell when 40,617 showed up to see you on Saturday. I was there. That number is true.
When I was leaving after watching Dullahan triumph in the Blue Grass Stakes, I had to laugh. If tomorrow you and I were both missing from the face of the earth, your loss would be an international news story and mine would be a footnote.
And I am okay with that. When I was in school, I always had English teachers who passionately argued that a location could be just as much a character in a book as a person. I don't think I fully understood that until you came into my life.
You are part of the heart and soul of the city. People plan their lives, and their outfits, around you.
Horse racing would not be the same without you. Lexington would not be the same without you. I would not be the same without you.
So Keeneland, thanks for a wonderful 10 years. Here's hoping the next 10 are even better.
Horse racing would not be the same without you. Lexington would not be the same without you.
Amanda Duckworth is a freelance journalist who lives in Lexington, Ky. Write to her at email@example.com.