Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Won By a Lip


I love when life imitates art. Now and then a story like the one I am about to relate comes along. I used to save a few like this to answer the cynical students of literature whose response to anything symbolic or allegoric was a high decibel Tsk!
Bad enough they couldn't appreciate the beauty, the aesthetic, they'd usually follow up the sound effects with, "You're just reading into this. Why isn't a name just a name, or an object just the object it is?"
Yeah, I know what Freud said about cigars, but Dude, that's the point, to read into it. Go deep, my brother, my sister.
So here's the deal, and it involves a racetrack story too: Last week at Beulah Park, a small D List track that's in that part of Ohio that is just about Kentucky they've uncovered a ringer. A ringer, in horse racing, for those of you who are uninitiated, is when a horse runs a race under the name of another horse. A dead ringer, see? It's highly illegal and difficult to do because aside from being identified by color, specific markings, something called *"night eyes" and a number tattooed under their upper lip, most ringer attempts are easily foiled. I know of one that happened at a small Midwestern track a few years back when the paddock judge decided to forego the identification by lip because a freak snowstorm came up and all horses were covered with white flakes and they just wanted to get in the last race of the day. Because horses run in levels of competition, if you slip in a higher quality horse against a group with less skill-BINGO...Go to the window and collect.
At Beulah Park the other day, a horse called Valid Action was entered in a race. The official results show that he won that race, but it was later revealed that a better horse by the name of Purdy Tricky actually ran and won the race.
What follows now are steep fines and suspensions for the trainer and the horse identifier who are ultimately responsible for this state of affairs. Turns out that the chief horse identifier at the track was out that day and an underling filling in made the mistake. Even if the tattoo number was misread, you'd think they would check the color and markings. * (If you want to know what "night eyes" are send me an email)
Believe it or not this kind of thing can happen with no ill intention. I'm not saying this example is an accident. I don't know. But it has happened accidently especially when horses are shipped from one trainer to another. By the way, the name of the suspended horse identifier was Malarky.

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