I struggle with writing Christmas Cards, once I get past Merry Christmas and my own name I'm usually at a loss for things to say. That may surprise some given the oft verbose nature of many of my entries in this space but I have always been more about facts, observations and opinions than emotional expression.
Despite this literary handicap in the spirit of Christmas I will attempt to convey some of the things I feel blessed to have received from racing this year.
It is so very easy for the dedicated race fan to get caught up in all the issues of racing. So many areas of this sport are operated in ways that seem to defy reason, and then of course there are the tragedies that shake us all. There always seems to be things to fix about this game and while I do advocate for several grand scale changes myself I think this is a good time to put that all on the back burner and salute the things that are truly good about racing, the gifts that racing gives us on an ongoing basis.
I'm sure you are all touched in different ways by this sport and I'd love to hear about them. Here are some of the gifts that racing has provided for me.
Hope - This is my favorite aspect of racing. The fact that there is always tomorrow, there is always one more race. There is always a yearling or juvenile just itching for the chance to do what they love. We're also constantly provided with great stories of how individuals overcame the odds to achieve glory. Horse racing has a greater capacity to inspire hope among its patrons than any other sport in existence.
Beauty - This is where my punitive writing skills do my feelings the greatest injustice. How can one put to words the grace and beauty that the eye beholds. Horses themselves are beautiful creatures, horses in motion are more perfect still. "If God made anything more beautiful he kept it for himself" Unknown author.
Joy - There is nothing quite like the rush of seeing a horse you've backed financially, emotionally or both cross that wire in front. Especially if they've had to overcome the odds to do so. Deeper than that as well. I derive a good amount of joy simply from seeing others do things they love. I see this in the body language of the horses. They love it and it's hard not to get caught up in that.
The Chance To See Greatness - I think the human race is naturally intrigued by even a hint of greatness. Racing yearly affords chances to see brilliance and greatness unfold. It does not always come about nor do we always appreciate it for what it is but the chance is ever present.
The Mental Challenge - I love to be challenged and racing is the ultimate mental challenge. There are a myriad of clues that point to the eventual answer some are obvious and some perceptible only to the trained eye. No one has completely mastered this giant puzzle and no one ever truly will but there is tons of enjoyment to be had in trying.
These are the qualities of racing that will always endure no matter how frustrated we get with the lack of changes or the seeming nonsense of changes that are implemented and no matter how often we're beleaguered by tragedies. These are the gifts of racing. How lucky we are to receive them.