The Belmont Stakes are today, in a few hours. Horse racing wasn't even on my radar before I met CB, who is a fan. I have since learned a bit (a very little bit) about it, and it strikes me as a unique sport/past time/spectacle.
First, there's the wagering. It's such an integral part of it, that the odds are given for who is likely to win the race, and people of course can bet on it. While people bet on all sorts of things, not the least of which are sporting events, you don't see the odds posted at a Rockies game (hint: don't bet on them to win. Not lately anyway...).
Then there's the money that is poured into these animals. Some really high end horses are owned by groups of people. Last I heard, Big Brown, who is favored heavily to win today, was worth $60 million. And that's not going to come from his work on the track. No, he will be much more valuable in a futures game with his gametes, that is he'll work as a stud. His owners may chose not to let him fulfill his potential as a racing horse, as he could hurt himself and not fulfill his mandate as a passer-on of lightening-fast genes.
Finally, there's the element of luck. For something that so much money is riding on, luck, to my eyes, plays a disproportionate role. There are a lot of horses who "should" win a particular race, but don't for some reason. Bad start, slight lameness, stumble at the wrong time, whatever.
So while I am putting in a few hours at work today to try to knock out the conference poster and square up some preliminary data to show the boss when he comes back on Monday, I'll be excusing myself around 5 pm EST and finding a TV that's showing the race.
image: Coglianese Photos
UPDATE: Big Brown, for some reason, came in dead last today. This is what I mean by that luck thing. No good reason given yet for why he ran out of gas, but there won't be a Triple Crown winner this year.