Thursday, June 5, 2008

THROWN BY A BIG BROWN HORSE (Or, MIGHTY CASEY WAS ON STEROIDS)

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It was probably 1990 or ’91 when the Countess (my then-girlfriend) and I found ourselves snaking up a steep and excessively winding road carved into the side of a craggy Utah mountain. It was just two skinny lanes, one for each direction, and I was at the wheel, stuck behind some old goat in a truck pulling his horse in a trailer behind him. We probably hadn’t topped 10 miles an hour over the last two trillion kilometers, but attempting to pass the truck and horse trailer on that grade would have been like playing Russian roulette against your overly polite Russian captor in a gulag using a fully loaded revolver: “After you, my American comrade. I insist!”

After several dangerous and ultimately aborted attempts to pass the trailer on that mountanside, my patience finally wore down and my frustration bubbled up as I blurted out, “Damn! I gotta get around this horse’s ass!”

I only told you that little story because it is in keeping with the equine theme of this Blog Bit and because it’s probably one of the funnier impromptu lines I ever came up with.

The Blog Bit I originally intended to post here was going to begin with what you read above. (Well, come to think of it, THIS Blog Bit begins with it also!) I had already composed all but the final few paragraphs of my intended Blog installment about the race horse BIG BROWN and his quest (now only a couple of days away from fulfillment) of being the first thoroughbred in 30 years to win horse racing’s nearly impossible Triple Crown. My Blog Bit was going to be titled “THE WORLD’S GREATEST ATHLETE IS A HORSE” and it was meant to be this heartwarming tale of how my Pa and I bonded at the horse races from the time I was just an 11 year old boy, and from there it segued into my enthusiasm over the exploits of this remarkable superhorse, Big Brown, and the incredible achievement that he is about to realize: Triple Crown victory. My Blog installment included a reference to this tearjerking story about Big Brown’s jockey, Kent Desormeaux, and Desormeaux’s young son who is quickly going blind but will fortunately see his Dad win the first Triple Crown in three decades.
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And the Blog Bit was also loaded with (hopefully humorous) reminiscences like this:

After quitting my commercial sign designing job in 1984, and mentally armed with all my Pa had taught me about the horses, I attempted to make my living at “The Sport Of Kings.” Each night, I would handicap the next day’s races at Hollywood Park, and in the morning, I’d drive to the race track and place that day’s bets. Then my friend Pooh (who worked afternoons and evenings) and I would go to Azteca restaurant for lunch and to take advantage of their 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. One Dollar Margarita special. Well, by 1 P.M., when the Margarita Dollar Deal was done, Pooh would invariably be too drunk to go to work… so I’d have to drive him there.

My horse racing career lasted about 3 weeks before I traded my Daily Racing Form for the Classified Ads section and found myself scouring it for a job offer: “Needed – penniless, former margarita-guzzling horseplayer/chauffeur to flip burgers at The Minimum Wage Burger Palace.”


For sentimental reasons, this nearly completed Blog Bit I’d composed was already one of my own favorite pieces of writing I’ve ever done. I even had a bunch of superstar athletes lined up to make guest appearances, including Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant, and the entire defensive line of the New York Giants! Unfortunately, I had to scrap the whole thing when, in the process of researching a few facts with which to close the piece, I discovered to my great disappointment that the superhorse Big Brown is regularly administered steroids – a practice that is legal in 28 of the 38 states where horse racing occurs. The steroid of choice for Big Brown’s trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr., is Winstrol, also known as Stanozolol. This is the same performance-enhancing steroid that runner Ben Johnson and baseball player Rafael Palmeiro got caught using, and which the meat-faced, buttheaded pitcher, Roger Clemens, is accused of taking in the butt.

If Winstrol enhances a human being’s athletic performances but at the cost of unhealthy side effects, I can’t imagine that it’s any different for a thoroughbred horse.
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No doubt, Big Brown is a tremendously gifted athlete, and without question, this chemical asssistance is also being supplied to many of the horses he lines up against, but regardless, learning of his performance-enhanced condition immediately killed the thrill I had been experiencing in watching Big Brown blow the tails off of his competition and it instantaneously threw me into a deep funk! (I swear, I felt like listening to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” through headphones while smoking a fifth of Jim Beam and drinking a kilo of weed. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but yeah, it was bad! Faster than I could say “Oh, sh#t!” my mood ring had turned an excrement brown.) Quite simply, we will never really know how Big Brown stacks up against the great thoroughbreds of the pre-steroid past; it would be like trying to compare apples and orangutans.

Before reading any further, be forewarned that a plate of Brussels sprouts, spinach and liver would go down easier than the rest of what I’m going to write here. Hang on to yer sense of humor - you’ll need it later. Despite all of the jocularity, I’m probably the most sadistic person— uhm, I meant PESSIMISTIC person – you’d never want to meet. Heck, I’m enough to drive the ever-optimistic Richard Simmons into a Haagen-Dazs binge and a lesbian love affair! If you think you like me, then you just don’t know me, do you? Well, do ya, punk?

Anyway, this sudden funk that I fell into was about much more than the disappointment of learning that my new Big Brown hero was a fraud; it brought back to mind all of the frauds of recent times: how one of my boyhood heroes, Pete Rose, had broken one of baseball’s cardinal rules by betting on the game – and worse yet, lied about it for years and years; how The Asterisk* (The Asterisk* is Barry Bonds) broke baseball’s greatest record (lifetime home runs) while utilizing performance-enhancing chemicals; how the entire world of professional sports is filthy with chemical cheats, from Jason Giambi and Mark McGwire to Marion Jones and damn near every other athlete you could name. Until a reliable test is developed to sniff out hGH, every single athlete in every single sport is suspect. I’ve got “big” news for ya: a woman cannot acquire a man’s physique and a man cannot acquire The Incredible Hulk’s physique without chemical assistance. (If you believe that Serena Williams comes by that Cassius Clay body naturally, I’ve got the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and a musical bridge that I can let you have for a song! Anyone wanna place any bets on whether or not that rumor about Lance Armstrong and “artificial assistance” might have a chemically-enhanced leg to stand on?)

But my “performance-enhanced funk” quickly spiraled into depression about the condition of “this world” altogether, which The Holy Bible clearly states is ruled by the devil himself: “The ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. … My Kingdom is not of this world.” --Jesus; from John 14:30 & 18:36. [Also see Luke 4:5,6 and 1st John 5:19] It was brought back to my mind for the umpteenth time how even the simplest pleasures in life can be stolen by the wicked hand operating in this fraudulant world. “This world” is just a sad, distorted and inauthentic mocking of God’s spiritual Kingdom. I got to dwelling on how this country has fallen from Grace, and yet being on the cusp of a genuine economic depression, the politically retarded American People are about to elect yet another Socialist/Corporatist to lead the Executive Branch of our once-proud Republic. Hell, the American People wouldn’t recognize a Constitutional Principle if it got naked and sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy” on American Idol with a lit sparkler in its heinie. Oh, but Statism is “The Survivor” they vote to keep on the island.

Once again, I found myself focusing on the appalling intellectual dishonesty found in every politically correct Liberal, all of whom protect the new postmodern Socialism which has ruined our way of life and reduced us to a wholly immoral and unethical existence. With the inescapable MTV (mind control television) blaring 24/7, most Americans can’t begin to discern the difference between American and Un-American concepts. Republicans mistakenly believe that they are conservatives and Democrats mistakenly think that they are something else entirely (I’ll trade you one Neocon for a Liberal and we’ll call it “even”).

But I find it particularly distressing when even some of the people close to me seem to be utterly clueless: When one of my own former Reagan-voting relatives told me two years ago that she could envision herself voting for Hellary Clinton, I insinuated that perhaps she should consider herself politically conflicted. But truthfully, it was more severe than that: she was simply dangerously ignorant about Truth, Justice and The “American” Way (although a regular church-going Catholic she was).

I was recently contacted by a woman whom I had a rather debilitating case of “the hots” for 23 years ago, only to find now in 2008 that she is a self-proclaimed “feminist” “Democrat” who says, “I would never ever have an abortion although I am conflicted about telling other women what to do with their bodies.” (Gee, like I’ve never encountered THAT weak-kneed backdoor excuse for supporting abortion before!) She’s also a big Bruce Springsteen fan. In other words, she’s checked every item on the “Socialist’s Laundry List.” (Now, I’ll admit to having been a Springsteen fan myself in the early ‘80s, but hell, at least I got better; at least I came to recognize that a numbskull with a guitar is still just a numbskull.) Whaddaya wanna bet that this old friend of mine still believes in that CONVENIENT UNTRUTH about man-made global warming? That’s my guess, seeing as how independent research and objective analysis just doesn’t appear to be her cup of pinkie-raising rose hips and Swedish salt-glow aromatherapy double latte. Considering that this Ms.Lib is the same person who long ago introduced me to Ayn Rand’s ideas, it’s a mystery to me how she can now fall for every bit of the Socialistic “propagandogma.” I’m left scratching my head and wondering: Wha’ Hoppened? (Actually, I think WHA’ HOPPENED?” is commonly referred to as A COLLEGE EDUCATION.)

Of course, by stressing the faults of my fellow Americans, I’m certainly not implying that I myself am perfect… but only relatively so. ;o) Well, at any rate, I was at Trader Vic’s last night and MY HAIR was perfect.

The sports world is an artificial scam, but so is nearly everything else. There is no integrity to be found in our culture any longer: the men just want more, and higher, bigger, faster and flashier; bling, baby, bling! And the women, well, they just want to be men. (I find a John Deere tractor to be more feminine than most late Twentieth Century/early Twenty-First Century women.) We live in a world that is sexually perverted and obsessed with violence. Channel surf the TV for one hour and see if We The People (both men AND women) aren’t lusting for and entertained by casual sex, ultraviolent gore in the form of slasher movies, and extreme violence, with America’s bizarre and depraved cravings being satisfied by reality cage fights and martial arts productions up the yinyang. (American movies and television: if it ain’t about screwing brains out, it’s about knocking teeth out. But why settle for just one when we can have it all? Give The People what they want: a channel with nonstop programming of “The Ultimate Fighting And F###ing Championship.”) And while the American zombie sits transfixed by his/her boob tube, our Liberal social engineers have deliberately manipulated minds and disfigured God’s natural order, twisting it beyond all recognition in an attempt to remake “this world” in satan’s sick likeness.

Forget learning the truth about Santa Claus, I was once fond of saying that childhood came to an abrupt end for a California kid on the day he or she first noticed the strings attached to the “swimming” fish on Disneyland’s submarine ride. Innocence made those blatant strings invisible to children, but one day, innocence disappears and the strings take its place. Similarly, I recognized the very moment that America’s collective innocence had totally disappeared: it was when mannequin manufacturers began forming nipples on the breasts of female mannequins so that women could get an idea of what their busts would look like if they chose to go braless underneath that silk blouse with the plunging neckline. (Oh, but heaven help the poor male chauvinist pig who gets caught looking and mistakenly thinking of that “natural woman” as a sex object. Women! Sheesh! They’re phonier than McGwire, Clemens, Palmeiro, The Asterisk*, Jose Canseco, Ms. Jones and Big Brown all put together!)

Yes, the first time I noticed nipples on a mannequin, I intuitively knew that America was surely going down that long and winding road to an immoral, soul-sickening cesspool of satanic sensuality. And that was my “the glass is half full” assessment. The years have only proven that my sixth sense is number one.

There is virtually no place to go for extended relief: the pollution is thrust upon us at every turn by entertainers, by athletes, by artists, by musicians, by writers. Nothing can be trusted nor relied upon. We can believe no one of “this world”, not politicians, not college professors, not journalists, not policemen, not priests and ministers. Hell, the corruption is rampant and the dishonesty even extends to a couple of lawyers and judges!

As the years go by, I find myself increasingly able to relate to Saint Paul’s psychically painful predicament: “For Christ is my life, and to die is gain. Even if in this life of the flesh my labors bear fruits, I do not know what to choose. For I am torn between two desires, the one to depart, that I may be with Christ, which is far better; nevertheless, for me to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

One reason that Saint Paul’s quandary strikes me in such a profound manner is the fact that I generally feel that I have only one foot in “this world” and the other in “the other” - that is, Christ’s Kingdom, which is not of “this world.”

I realize that this rant is beginning to sound more like a suicide note than a Blog Bit, but if it were so, rather than titling this “Thrown By A Big Brown Horse”, I would have called it “Goodbye, Cruel World.” And as much as I would like to climb into my truck with a bottle of good Cabernet Sauvignon, crank the engine over and let it run in my enclosed garage until I’ve asphyxiated myself to death, I simply can’t afford enough gasoline to get the job done.

Oh, I’ll be the first person to proclaim that God has blessed me beyond exceedingly and Christ has protected me: Jesus has interacted with me in ways that, if I were to elaborate on them, it would “knock yer head clean off” (as Br’er Bear would say) and leave you incredulous. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Bible tells me that our social engineers working for satan will cause conditions to become worse still, and there is no guarantee that the promised joyful Curtain Call of Christ will occur in my own lifetime.

In “this world” of false idols, it’s all about fame, sex, brutality, and “Show me the money”, when it should be about Love, Truth, forgiveness and “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”

Speaking of the persecution that will follow for those who attempt to represent Him and His Principles on Earth, Jesus Christ promised: “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” [Matt.10:23]

Certainly I want to endure to the end and be saved, and yet surely, I can’t be the only person who finds “this world” to be almost as unbearable as Big Brown is unbeatable. Well, I’ll conclude this rant with this Biblical question which I send straight to my Savior from the core of my heart and the heart of my soul:

“Return, O Lord! How long?”
[Ps.90:13]

“This world” is a sick ‘n’ sad fraud, it is a disappointment, a Love killer. “This world” is a called third strike on the outside corner with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of game seven. Well, that’s it for the home team, sports fans. WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR . . . . . in Jerusalem.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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16 comments:

mousiemarc said...

Heb 13:5B (I think if memory serves me right)

For he has said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

There are other people out there that need us through our example and our words to teach them about God. That's why you still here... God ain't done with his son Stephen T. Mccarthy recruiting future sons...

The bible says we have the ministry of reconsiliation (I never said my spellin was good).. We have the honour of having God work through us to save others from the second death. Can't do that if your not here...

I prayed to God last night man... I was thinking about this same type of thing. I have a son coming who will grow up in a world much more corrupt than mine was (which was much more corrupt than the world of your childhood). I didn't really know what to do but ask God for guidance and ask him to put a passion in my son for God in his word that surpasses mine by 5,000, and then 10,000 times. Not trying to get strange but I really believe he will need it... And the funny thing I just know God is going to do it. But I have to keep my end of the deal. I promised to raise him up in his word. Just like being married and human (meaning fighting sin nature) there are days you really just don't want to do it.

Love you brother,
May Christ bless you life by working in your to reconsile others.

Marc :)

S.T.McC. said...
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S.T.McC. said...
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S.T.McC. said...

BR'ER MARC:
I sincerely thank you for your kind
and concerned comments, but.....

I want my Mommy!

(Although I s'pose I'd settle for a lifetime supply of ice cream.)

~ STMcC
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>

POSTSCRIPT: I once posed a similar question to God, asking Him if He knew where I was and asking Him why I was here. And a few hours later, God sent this woman to me with the message that God had me here because He was refining me like silver until He could see His own Image reflected in me. Despite this very specific answer, I just wouldn't be being "me" if I didn't b!tch and moan from time to time. :o) Besides, I think it made for a decent Blog Bit and I gotta write about SOMETHING! Right?

mousiemarc said...

Always lookin for drama...

Anonymous said...

STM,

It's been awhile since we've spoken. I've been busy preppin my home for sale and my "internet time" has been basically nill.

I'm glad to see that you're up and running over here. I really enjoyed this post. It's funny that the people who I believe to be really born of spirit seem to feel the same way when making their way through "this world". Sometimes things seem so demented that if I focus on it too long it's seems that I just can't take it anymore. That's when we need to realize the beauty that's still here. Take time to catch a sunrise or sunset, share good times with family or friends and as Marc implied remember that we all still have "work to do".

There's still some good here in the midst of all this madness. Remember too that the worse things become, the closer we are to our destiny, and that's a good thing indeed. Be blessed.

WP

Anonymous said...

Hi STMcC ~

I enjoyed the BigBrown Stuffs. (Did you ever see "The Groove Tube", with the commercials for the fabulous new product: 'Brown 29'? Funny funny funny).

I thought you were planning on writing on the inevitability of BB's victory, and was going to see if you left any wiggle room in there... since BB lost.

Instead, I found a thoughtful and interesting musing about God, politics, and existence. It did not seems to me that you presented yourself as depressed as you indicated, though. But maybe you just inject humor so well into your writing that you disguise the depression really well.

Some of your best lines:

"it would be like trying to compare apples and orangutans." Clever!

"the American People wouldn’t recognize a Constitutional Principle if it got naked and sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy” on American Idol with a lit sparkler in its heinie." Conjures up a truly delightful image! I'll have to start watching American Idol in hopes.

"same person who long ago introduced me to Ayn Rand’s ideas, it’s a mystery to me how she can now fall for every bit of the Socialistic “propagandogma.” I’m left scratching my head and wondering"

~ THIS one was not funny... but I am beyond appalled that a FORMER Ayn Rander could possibly make this switch. She obviously never saw the grand vista that is freedom.

“The Ultimate Fighting And F###ing Championship.” AK AK AK! Once again... I'll start watching Spike TV for this one, as you have a knack for predicting what depravity will come next (like Chess/boxing matches!)

"Hell, the corruption is rampant and the dishonesty even extends to a couple of lawyers and judges!"
~ burst out laughing at this one!

"I simply can’t afford enough gasoline to get the job done." This one is funny, but it DOES come at the end of a depressing paragraph. I insist that this be merely humor. If there is truth there, then you must get a hold of me immediately!

You really have a gift, in my opinion. You write very well, and I always enjoy it. I truly cannot say that about many writers... and I know a lot of them.

Chat, soon, Bro~
Paul

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Yo! OL' WP ~

Man, it's wonderful to hear from you again -- it's been too long!

><[I'm glad to see that you're up and running over here. I really enjoyed this post.]><

Thanks, Bro! And I'm glad you stopped by. Napoleon said he thought this was one of my best pieces... before adding, "It is pretty dark though." And then he mentioned how dark it is again, as if he was bringing some light to the situation.

><[It's funny that the people who I believe to be really born of spirit seem to feel the same way when making their way through "this world". Sometimes things seem so demented that if I focus on it too long it's seems that I just can't take it anymore.]><

You said it, WP! I guess you feel my pain, and vice versa.

It's been suggested that what I really need is just a good roll in the hay. Unfortunately for me, however, it wasn't God who suggested it.

Oh well, when things get bad, I can always rely on martinis to pull me out of it. I don't know what it is, but it seems as if there's something about green olives that always make me cheerful! :o)

><[and as Marc implied remember that we all still have "work to do".]><

"Work"?! I'd appreciate it in the future if you wouldn't post dirty 4-letter words on my Blog!

><[There's still some good here in the midst of all this madness.]><

Yeah, like green olives.

><[I've been busy preppin my home for sale and my "internet time" has been basically nill.]><

Well, sheesh, Brother, I sure hope you have better luck with that than I've had. It's a gazillion degrees out there and I was so hopeful that I would be gone from here before having to endure yet another Summer in hell. But it looks like I'm "stuck inside of Phoenix with the Airheadzona blues again."

Yer still in N'Yawk Town, ain'tcha? Where you hoping to move to, WP? ("The West is the best; get here and we'll do the rest.")

~ STMcC
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Howdy, MR. PAUL ~

><[(Did you ever see "The Groove Tube", with the commercials for the fabulous new product: 'Brown 29'? Funny funny funny)]><

Well, I recall seeing it during its theatre run (late ‘70s?), but not since then.

><[I thought you were planning on writing on the inevitability of BB's victory, and was going to see if you left any wiggle room in there... since BB lost.]><

Well, I’ll be honest: I did think it was nearly inevitable; that was as close to a “sure thing” as we’ll ever see in horse racing. The outcome was astounding, inexplicable, and needless to say, disappointing. I mean, when a trainer for one of Big Brown’s Belmont opponents was asked what it would take to beat Big Brown, and he responded, “I don’t know; an act of God maybe”, then you know we’ve seen an upset of Biblical proportions.

In fact, isn’t it odd that in just the last 4 months, we’ve seen two of the biggest upsets in the history of sports? Super Bowl XLII and the ’08 Belmont. (Now, seeing as how the N.Y. Giants had played the Patriots to within 3 points just a few weeks prior to the Super Bowl, I personally was not as shocked by that upset as most of the rest of the world was, but it will certainly be remembered as one of the most unlikely results in Super Bowl history.)

><[It did not seems to me that you presented yourself as depressed as you indicated, though. But maybe you just inject humor so well into your writing that you disguise the depression really well.]><

Thanks, Bro! Actually, when I first sat down to write the piece, I was indeed as depressed as I indicated, but by the time I finished it (a couple of days later), I was no longer feeling it so acutely. For me, one of the many advantages to having a “realationship” with Jesus is that my bouts with depression no longer go as many rounds or as deep into the count as they once did. (Yes, I know that I am mixing my boxing and baseball metaphors there.)

><[~ THIS one was not funny... but I am beyond appalled that a FORMER Ayn Rander could possibly make this switch. She obviously never saw the grand vista that is freedom.]><

Yeah, I hear ya. I think Rand may have challenged her thinking at the time, but clearly she never fully understood the general concept and the foundation that upholds it. Of course, you and I have previously agreed that we don’t concur with every single aspect of Rand’s world-view, but at least we see the “morality” of true capitalism vs. the negative ramifications of socialism. I suspect that my friend was not able to retain her political vision after she went back to college and was bombarded day after day by the Socialistic ideas that they instill in students at those “Indoctrination Centers.”

><[“The Ultimate Fighting And F###ing Championship.” AK AK AK! Once again... I'll start watching Spike TV for this one, as you have a knack for predicting what depravity will come next (like Chess/boxing matches!)]><

Oh gosh! I hope I’m not a prophet!
><[knack]>< ACK!!!
In your honor, I’m typing this while listening to the music I have which comes closest to sounding like The Knack: Satchmo. (Yeah, I know, I know! But Louis Armstrong is “AS CLOSE” as I get to “yuh-yuh-yuh-yer Sharona.” Hu-Hu-Hu-Hullo Dolly!)

><["I simply can’t afford enough gasoline to get the job done." This one is funny, but it DOES come at the end of a depressing paragraph. I insist that this be merely humor. If there is truth there, then you must get a hold of me immediately!]><

Why? You’ll lend me some money for gas?

><[You really have a gift, in my opinion. You write very well, and I always enjoy it. I truly cannot say that about many writers... and I know a lot of them.]><

I know you do, and that’s why this compliment means A LOT to me, Brotherman! THANK YOU, Mr. Paul!

Say, can you spare a few bucks for a fellow American who’s down on his luck? I promise not to spend it on anything but gasoli-- er... on green olives, I mean!

~ STMcC
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>

mousiemarc said...

Hey bro, I posted some new blogs (new reviews I left at Amazon).. I miss some of your comments since the censors unjustly thwarted your voice. I would love it if you have a moment to read me's four reviews....

Mousie Marc

mousiemarc said...

Hey have your read the new Ron Paul blog. If not I provided a link in my blog..

God Bless Ya,
Marc

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

[Originally posted here on June 6, 2008 10:27 AM]

I realize that the articles I linked into my Blog Bit might eventually be deleted from the internet, so I decided to post them here for posterity. The first article was:

Jockey Chases Triple Crown While Son Can Still See It
By Tom Pedulla, USA Today

BALTIMORE — When jockey Kent Desormeaux and undefeated Big Brown spring into action in the 133rd Preakness Stakes on Saturday, their bid to move to within one win of a Triple Crown will be accompanied by a rush of sights and sounds.

The jockeys' bright, shimmering silks will form a montage of colors after the starting gate snaps open. The fans' roar will all but propel the pounding hooves into the first turn at Pimlico Race Course. There will be a wall of sound as the field turns for home. It will grow louder still if heavily favored Big Brown breaks free and takes another step toward becoming the 12th Triple Crown champion and the first since Affirmed in 1978.

"You're talking about history," Desormeaux, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, says of his quest with a colt who dominated his first four starts by a combined 33¾ lengths. "You're talking about never being forgotten."

Desormeaux (pronounced da-SOAR-mo) and his wife, Sonia, desperately want this memory, not so much for themselves as for Jacob. Their 9-year-old son depends on cochlear implants to compensate for deafness at birth. He is losing sight at a terrifying pace as a child afflicted with Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder. "We give him all of the life experiences we possibly can," Sonia says, "and let him see as much as he can while he can." They want him to be as much a part of his father's magical ride as possible.

Desormeaux, 38, left the Cajun country of Maurice, La., to burst onto the racing scene as an Eclipse Award-winning apprentice in Maryland in 1987. He led the nation in victories for three consecutive years, culminating in a single-season record 598 wins in 1989.

He used the 1990s to establish himself as one of the premier riders on the West Coast. In 1995, at 25, he became the youngest jockey in history to win 3,000 races. Five years later, he was the third-youngest to attain the 4,000-win plateau, trailing only Bill Shoemaker and Chris McCarron.
His rise may have been too swift for his own good. Desormeaux admits he began thinking and acting as if he was the sole reason for all of that success. His brashness eventually led trainers and owners to reject him.
Says Desormeaux, "Every barn I would walk into they would spin like a top and walk the other way. Talk about being gut-wrenched. These were the same people who helped me win the Kentucky Derby (Real Quiet for trainer Bob Baffert in 1998, Fusaichi Pegasus for trainer Neil Drysdale in 2000)."

Mike Pegram, owner of Real Quiet, expresses admiration for Desormeaux but says of the jockey's West Coast slide, "Kent is a passionate guy. Your passion can work for you and it can work against you. He has an opinion, as most passionate guys do, and he forgot who the boss is."

A change in coasts in 2006 — not to mention attitude — allowed him to return to prominence. His earnings nearly doubled, jumping from $4,644,416 to $8,520,558, in his first year back East.

His resources have allowed Jacob to get the best of care through 17 major surgeries, including 11 on his ears. The Hall of Fame rider calls it "gut-wrenching" when he thinks of what the younger of his two sons is losing — Joshua is a healthy 15-year-old — even as he strives to complete a sweep of the Derby on May 3, Preakness and Belmont Stakes on June 7.
A sweep finally would end the longest Triple Crown drought since Sir Barton became the first such champion in 1919. The longest gap before this existed between Citation (1948) and Secretariat (1973).

Time is of the essence for Jacob. He already suffers from night blindness and lack of balance. He has lost a considerable amount of peripheral vision. Doctors advised his parents that he will be legally blind by the time he reaches early adulthood. "I don't think I want a time," Sonia says. "It's happening extremely fast, so every day is so important."

Kent and Sonia, high school sweethearts, have done what they can to explain to Jacob the consequences of Usher syndrome. The cochlear implants in both ears allow him to hear through an external device that sits behind the ear; a second element is implanted beneath the skin. Signals generated by the implant are sent by way of the auditory nerve to the brain, which recognizes the signals as sound.

Jacob goes through eyeglass prescriptions every few months as he combats deteriorating sight. "He knows basically what is going to happen, but I don't think he realizes what it actually means," Sonia says as Jacob plays nearby with a friend. "In time, he will."

Jacob was happy during a recent visit to the family's Garden City, N.Y., home. He still was delighting in the flawless ride his father had given Big Brown when he overcame Post 20 to roar off to a 4¾-length Kentucky Derby rout. Only Clyde Van Dusen (1929) had reached the winner's circle from such an extreme outside position in the modern history of the 1¼-mile Run for the Roses.

"The whole family gets a great silver trophy," Jacob says of a triumph that left his father two shy of the all-time record of five Derby wins, shared by legends Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack.

Desormeaux struggles to separate his worries at home from a job that requires him to put his life on the line every time one of his mounts bolts from the starting gate. "I tell myself, 'Don't let it eat me up,' " he says. "We'll pray for a miracle."

Desormeaux lost hearing in his right ear in an accident at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., in 1992 when Judge Hammer abruptly swerved and dumped him into the path of charging horses. He suffered multiple skull fractures and still was recuperating when Joshua was born.

The bond Joshua and Jacob have developed could not be stronger.
"Joshua is Jacob's angel," Desormeaux says. "Jacob idolizes Joshua, and Joshua does everything he can to look out for his brother."

An ultrasound examination showed Jacob covering his ears when he was in his mother's womb. He continued that behavior after birth, and was so insistent on it that his parents used to pry his hands away. He was 14 months old when deafness was diagnosed. When Sonia received the news, Joshua sought to comfort her. "Me and Jake are going to be able to tell secrets," he said, "and no one else will know what we're talking about."

The comment was typical of the love that pervades the Desormeaux household. "There's a special bond in that family that you don't see in many others," says Gary Stevens, a former rival of Desormeaux's who remains a close friend.

While it troubled Desormeaux when he was forced to uproot his family to come East, he felt he had no choice. The West Coast experience gave Desormeaux a painful reminder that good or even great jockeys on plodding horses cannot win. Or as NBC analyst Stevens says, "I wouldn't want to drive a '55 Chevy in the Indy 500."

Big Brown is no '55 Chevy. Desormeaux describes him as the best horse he's ridden for his combination of horsepower and intelligence. He gave him a patient, masterful ride in the Derby. "Kent has meant everything," says Michael Iavarone, one of the 3-year-old's owners. "Kent has taught the horse to be patient and be professional."

Big Brown, still unchallenged through four races, was so brilliant on the first Saturday in May that he succeeded in running off all but one of his Derby competitors, 17th-place Gayego. He is a prohibitive 1-2 favorite as part of a field of 13 in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, despite light training aimed at having him as fresh as possible for the 1½-mile Belmont. "Big Brown is the best horse," Jacob says hopefully.

The sights and sounds would be incredible that afternoon at New York's Belmont Park if he is right. It would be something for Jacob to see and hear — and to keep in his mind's eye for eternity.

~ STMcC
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

[Originally posted here on June 6, 2008; 10:33 AM]

The second article that I made a reference to in "Thrown By A Big Brown Horse" was this:


The Last Winstrol Derby?
By Jim Squires

April 27, 2008, 2:22 pm

The best part of a morning on the rail at Keeneland this Triple Crown season is the regular appearance of Curlin, the 2007 Horse of the Year who recently vanquished international competitors in Dubai to become the undisputed race horse champion of the world.

Now fully mature at age 4, he is an intimidating presence, a gleaming red, chiseled example of what the correct regimen of feed, proper exercise and pharmaceuticals can do to an already beautifully conformed natural athlete. When he cuts loose from his pony to gallop, you expect him to sprout wings and take off among with the neighboring jets at Bluegrass Airport, leaving grounded and awestruck the herd of current Triple Crown nominees who pale in comparison.

The sight of this fire-breathing Pegasus not only scatters the equine paparazzi but inevitably evokes commentary from the railbirds, among them nervous trainers and hopeful owners headed for the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. Some of their comments are clearly true, like how absurd it is that the world’s greatest horse race is now billed as, “The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum Brands.” And some of their other observations may well be true, too, such as “You know, this could be the last Kentucky Derby on Steroids.”

Only the most naïve newcomers to the Sport of Kings consider the second comment shocking. Certainly not the Kings themselves, since steroids long have been a common and legal training technique in thoroughbred racing. Nowhere is steroidal impact more obvious than on the sleek, powerful 3-year-olds that get pointed toward the Triple Crown from their yearling sale days. If Barry Bonds had had as many shots of Winstrol as the average traveler on the Derby trail, his head would be the size of Yankee Stadium.

Winstrol, or “Winny,” an injectable version of Stanozolol, is what Roger Clemens’s trainer claims he shot into the Rocket’s tush in 1998. It is also the most popular anabolic steroid in the world of equine athletes. Most trainers are loathe to reveal what their horses get in the way of feed or other nourishment, but veterinarians agree that a monthly shot of Winstrol is pretty much a routine part of preparing thoroughbreds for sales or training top of the line race horses.

It is questionable whether Winstrol can make a man or a horse run faster. But there is no doubt it increases muscle mass, strength, red blood cell production, and aggressive behavior—all of which enhance most athletic competition. Yet there is nothing illegal or patently wrong about a horse getting it. Just as the human athletes claim, Winstrol is a terrific therapeutic medication. It jump-starts finicky appetites, builds muscles and endurance and speeds recovery from injuries for man and beast alike. Trainers who insist they never heard of it or allowed it to be administered to animals in their care are not likely to be listed among those who win Triple Crown races or get nominated to the Hall of Fame.

Before the uproar in the last decade over drug abuse among Olympians and professional athletes, steroids were of little concern in thoroughbred racing, except to dedicated breeders who realized that drugs were not only distorting the appearance of babies at weanling and yearling sales but also the performance of juveniles in the 2-year-old sales and the important early stakes races that determine Triple Crown candidates and future sires.

Shrewd breeders began waiting a month or two before booking mares to first year stallions off the racetrack because it takes six to eight weeks for steroids to clear so the real horse can begin to show up. About 10 days after cessation of a steroid regimen that gorgeous sale Adonis or Triple Crown hero can shrivel up like a raisin in the sun. Even when his natural self emerges, there is no assurance his speed and competitive spirit were not chemically induced, or that steroids have not permanently damaged his capacity to reproduce.

Suspected steroidal impact on the long-term health of these animals, especially the fertility of mares and stallions, is a partial but unspoken justification for a couple of otherwise seemingly inscrutable traditions in the racehorse industry. Champion stallions and mares are usually sold at the apex of their track success and are routinely vetted by buyers for insurance purposes. Yet fertility assessments are almost never included in the routine because a lot of horses would not pass, depriving sellers, agents and insurance carriers of vast sums of revenue. Instead the horses are insured against infertility. Steroids like Winstrol and Equipoise (testosterone) invariably have negative short-term hormonal impact such as shrunken testicles and reduced semen production in males and small ovaries and limited estrus cycles in females. Most can recover in a few months. But some never do, failing to even approach in the breeding shed their success on the racetrack.

The risk of injury and subsequent financial loss is always given as a reason why owners are in such a hurry to retire famous horses whose continued presence in competition until they fully mature at 5 and 6 years old would clearly create fan following and enhance the sport’s popularity. But insiders know that the longer horses are on a steroid regimen, the more likely they are to be permanently damaged. Long-term regimens not only impact hormones and liver function, they strip muscles of the fat between the sinews, increasing the chance of tendons and ligaments stripping away from the bones during exercise. Remaining competitive on the track too long is a risky path to self-destruction.

Finally, there has been in recent months a fortunate merging of public issues. Congressional scrutiny of steroid abuse by human athletes coincided with industry concerns that Congress might outlaw parimutuel gambling on the Internet. Simultaneously, racetrack operators were settling on Web-based advance-deposit wagering platforms as the revenue stream of the future. Uh. Oh! Pretty soon, congressional committees regulating Internet gambling would be on television asking industry lobbyists how bettors can be sure the outcome of races is not being influenced by steroid abuse.

Still, it took the Horse Racing Board in California, where the steroid controversy was born and where horse breeders have more influence than they do in Kentucky and New York, to conclude that steroids are in fact “performance-enhancing.” Subsequently, the state adopted tougher drug policies aimed at stopping the practice of giving horses “milkshakes” — sodium-bicarbonate solutions — to reduce fatigue and began demanding longer withdrawal times for therapeutic medications such Winstrol and the brochodilator Clenbuterol which has steroidal effects.

Emboldened by California, buyers, owners and breeders in Kentucky and Florida where most big-time racehorses are raised and sold have taken up the cause to rid the sport of steroids and made their case before regulators and state legislative bodies. Facing threats of increased scrutiny by the Florida legislature and the General Assembly in Kentucky, steroid regulation is now a near certainty in the most important racing jurisdictions and sale companies are writing steroid-free requirements into their conditions of sale.

Still at issue, of course, are the all-important withdrawal times. How long must horses be steroid free before they can be sold or raced? As usual, California is leading the industry in the right direction. The veterinarian Rick Arthur, the equine medical director of the C.H.R.B., wants anabolic steroid positives penalized with disqualification and automatic purse forfeiture. Some of the board’s strongest members want Clenbuterol doses prohibited for at least a month before a race. Current rules are as long as five days in California and as short as 24 hours in Louisiana.

Considering trainers believe that at least 95 percent of the horses in California, where medical rules are the most stringent and enforcement the most vigorous, train and race on Clenbuterol, this portends a dramatic and seismic shift in the way the magnificent animals whose images exhilarate the railbirds at Keeneland and Churchill Downs get there in first place.

All but five of the horses now expected in the Derby field were purchased at public auction, the majority at six-figure prices. At least seven, including the likely favorite Big Brown, began their journey to Churchill by roaring down the track in the 2-year-old training sales, where steroids are most common. A large number of future Derby hopefuls and Curlin wannabes are already running as 2-year-olds in quest of the graded stakes money that will launch them toward the Triple Crown battle in 2009. Most sport the unnatural size, muscle and maturity consistent with steroid regimen. But their 10-day shrivel period may come sooner than anyone expects, especially if the industry remains as fearful of state and federal regulation as it is now.

This won’t happen before the gate opens at Churchill Downs next month. But this might well be the last Kentucky Derby presented by Steroids, if not by Yum Brands.

~ STMcC
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>

farawayeyes said...

I definitely agree and it might be one of your best. Glad for it's transmigration.

farawayeyes said...

Carp, I forgot to check that little 'show me follow-up comments' box.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Thanks, FAE! I replied in the F-FFF comment section.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'