Who’s your Daddy? It often makes a difference in Horse Racing & Politics

Posted: May 10, 2009 in Horses & Politicians lacking Balls

Mine That Bird stunned the world last week at the Kentucky Derby. With his staggering 50-1 odds, he was the biggest long shot to win the Derby in modern times. He is a Gelding, which means he is a castrated horse. Only one other ball-less male horse has won the Derby since the invention of the the Hydrogen Bomb and John Wayne movies. There are endless funny things you can say about a horse with no balls. At least, funny to some people like me. But alas, that is not the topic of this report. This report is about Pedigree, and how it is applied effectively in Horse Racing and in – not so much – the Presidency.

Pedigree & Horses:
For such a seeming no-good long shot consider this: Mine That Bird is the son of former Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone. The Belmont is the third race in the Triple Crown which begins with the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl of horse racing and continues in successive two-week intervals with the Preakness Stakes and concludes at the Belmont. No horse has won all three races since Affirmed in 1979. So Birdstone’s better known for being the prick SOB that stopped Smarty Jones at the Belmont from winning the Triple Crown in 2004.

This happens a lot – eleven times actually, since Affirmed’s storied victory – a seemingly invincible steed will win the first two legs and then pull a Munson like Smarty Jones in the Belmont. Accompanying this event is a sometimes gut-wrenching spectacle. Those of us without souls however find it kind of funny.

It is customary for the wife of the owner of the would-be Triple Crown winning horse to wear a big ugly four foot wide yellow hat with flowers and other assorted plant life growing out on top. By the final turn as the midget jockey is lashing whip left and right but can’t get champ to catch up, the lady with the big hat is sobbing her eyes out on National TV like her poodle just died. Or maybe that’s actually the poodle she is wearing on her head?

What comes next for horses like Birdstone that can beat Smarty Jones and win a Belmont? While they don’t have a Leno or Letterman talk show circuit, horses are people too or so we are often told, so obviously they are out in the field bragging it up in every big, floppy horse’s ear they can find. After that, their owners decide what is best for their horse – insert what will make the owner of the horse more money here. The Triple Crown is for 3 year old horses only, so you don’t see horses come back for the repeat or 3peat.

The choice is to stud or not to stud? This is different than other sports where the studs don’t ever want to quit because they can make more money losing football games and throwing interceptions than they can creating baby Bret Favres. Too bad Bret Favre wasn’t a horse. It would be fun to name the little baby Bret Favre horses, like Ain’t 4 Retiring or Something about Mary Favre or Gift Sacks for Michael Strahan.

So Birdstone was sent to a horse farm somewhere and one day they bring in a girl horse named Mining My Own, and in my version of the story, they give the two an afternoon to run around the field and cuddle and spoon and listen to Rod Stewart songs. Also in my version of the story, nine months later Mining My Own’s water breaks and several hours later dad Birdstone is in the corner paddock handing out Its a Boy cigars.

Despite Birdstone’s greatness at the Belmont, his own father and grandfather never would forgive him for being the family slacker and not winning a Kentucky Derby of his own. Birdstone was the son of Grindstone who won the Kentucky Derby in 1996. Grindstone’s dad and Mine That Bird’s Great Grandfather was the legendary 1990 Derby winner, Unbridled. I haven’t fact checked this (code for I’m making it up) but Unbridled was the distant offspring of a horse that Buffalo Bill used to ride while upside down shooting an apple off of Annie Oakley’s head.

A word about Mine That Bird’s mom, if Mining My Own were a person she would be the equivalent to, let’s say, a Princess (like of Wales or Leah or Cinderella, you pick) in her bloodlines. Her brother, we will call him Luke Skywalker, is the famed two-time horse of the year Curlin. Curlin won himself a Preakness Stakes and stuck around after his breakout 3 year old season to win more races and money before going to the stud farm. Kind of like a Bret Favre who actually won a second Super Bowl.

With these kind of bloodlines, while it was disappointing to Mine That Bird’s extended horse family that he went off as such a long shot last week, everyone in the paddock is happy that he did finally realize his potential. It should be noted that this is not a unique family tree. Every horse that runs in the Triple Crown races has a similar lineage of a Dad or Granddad who won this race or mounted that mare, that kind of thing.

All the horses are related. Grandpa Grindstone for instance, the son of Unbridled, beat his little brother by a different mom, Unbridled’s Song is the 1996 Derby. Their mom’s probably had a cat fight over that.

Horse racing is kind of like watching Venus playing Serena at Wimbledon or Eli & Peyton in the Super Bowl every week. Come to think of it, it is kind of like NASCAR, those guys are all cousins too.

Pedigree & Presidents:
I’m not sure what to think yet of Barack Obama’s presidency. I didn’t vote for him, not because he’s not an impressive person. He seems extremely smart and is a very good speaker.

If I was a video game designer, I would create a game called Stump Speech where they scrolled a speech on the prompter and you read the text scoring points for not tripping over words and sounding like Dan Qualye. Obama is no Dan Qualye and would surely be Stump Speech the Video Game’s box cover boy like he was Madden 09’s Larry Fitzgerald. I think I would be good at that game like I was good at Frogger and Asteroids.

One of the main reasons I didn’t vote for Obama besides the footage of him playing basketball wearing, gasp, sweat pants on is that I liked the alternative. I just tend to vote for the war hero. The guy that spent over 5 years in a Viet Nam cage who could have used his Son of an Admiral pedigree to free himself, and didn’t.

I voted for John McCain, just like I voted for the Purple Heart winning John Kerry. Sort of like I wanted to vote for Bob Dole, but didn’t.

Here’s the thing – given a choice I will vote for the war hero almost every day of the week. I’m saddened that I can’t vote for Pat Tillman someday as war hero & NFL strong safety would have been a formidable combination, but I can’t wait to vote for Private Jessica Lynch to become the first female President of the US.

And, if I had a time machine and could go vote in past presidential races because that’s what sounds fun to me about a time machine, I would have dipped my feathery pen in ink and voted for War of 1812 hero Andy Jackson, although his Teapot Dome scandal sounds a lot like the crappy scandals we’ve had in the current Post Watergate era. Jackson probably was as annoying and blustery as John Kerry if they had a Meet The Press back then.

War heroes US Grant, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight D Eisenhower all get my vote even if they would have picked small town Alaska mayors as there VP Mates. Good thing, other than Eisenhower, they didn’t actually pick their running mates back then, and of course, Alaska wasn’t even a state yet.

There was another war hero president I really admired, John F Kennedy. Also a best selling author and married to hot wife, he had it all. The downside to JFK was he was the Grindstone or Curlin of Presidential timber. Or moreover, his father Joe, was Unbridled because let’s face it JFK’s own seedlings proved that they weren’t good passing bar exams, navigating without a flight panel or stealing a Senate seat from a blind New York Govenor that must have forgotten that she was a Kennedy.

Pedigree is something best left to horse racing.

JFK’s brother, the energetic youthful Bobby, wasn’t on the U-Boat rescuing his comrades. Not his fault he was too young to fight, but the points JFK scored as hero should not just be transferred to the next brother up.

But, since his own brother hired him as US Attorney General and White House bowling partner, RFK was on his way. He later picked a place on the map, New York, where he knew he could easily win a Senate Seat and eventually launched his own Kennedy brand that who knows one day, may have lived up to its bright promise.

He would have likely won the Presidency in 1968 had some cowards at an LA hotel not decided a different fate for RFK. Along with Ben Franklin, RFK has to be the other name that is most often the incorrect answer on the High School History test question, “Which of the following men was a US President?”

Now both John & Robert Kennedy’s assassinations were tragic. That hero capital should not automatically transfer like an inheritance to next Kennedy up. Which it did, and if little brother Teddy hadn’t driven his date’s car off a bridge, he probably would have stopped Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in their 1980 tracks.

And so, a next generation of Kennedy’s were born with their Unbridled pedigree and went off and won the equivalent of undercard races for Congress and the like. We’ve been spared a Kennedy national breakthrough probably more based on their too left positioning than the sometimes alternating scandal and tragedy that has followed the Kennedy pedigree.

Which brings me back to Barack Obama.

Clearly the best thing that happened during the ascendency of Barack Obama – besides the obvious historical nature of his victory – was he was the only thing that derailed the continuing handoff of power from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Clinton. He was like Birdstone beating Smarty Jones in the Belmont when he blocked Hillary and the Pantsuit Factory from her Oval Office entitlement.

At least for the time being as I haven’t paid attention, but I’m sure pundits are already writing about the growing friction between Amtrak Joe Biden & Hillary Pantsuit for the 2016 race.

I love this country and don’t care what anyone in France or Israel or either one of the Koreas think of our policies, but the continuing presidential handoff of power from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Clinton had to make us look fairly unimaginative. I am equally unabashedly tired of both Bushes and Clintons and I wish they would both go away and take the Kennedys with them.

The original George Bush had the most storied resume in the history of Presidential Candidacies. Military, CIA Director, House, Senate, VP. His legacy is, on balance positive, despite all the times he vomited on foreign leaders (like in Japan) and fell off campaign stages. The secret service that followed George HW Bush were trained on stopping the Nestea plunge off of a podium more than they were at jumping in front of a John Hinckly misfire.

But alas, the hero capital should not have automatically been passed like it was a Royal endowment to George W and his brainy brother Jeb Bush. If you are not known as the smart brother, doesn’t that make you the dumb brother?

Equally worth puking up over was the presidential pedigree transfer from Bill Clinton to Hillary Clinton. Martha Stewart is a wonderful designer and bad investor. If her husband had taken over her show and empire and started talking about swatch colors while she was in prison it would have sounded pretty ridiculous, right? Hillary touting her experience as wife of President as qualification to be President is equally ridiculous. And what was so great about the Clinton Presidential mantle in the first place?

I think both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were probably both unfairly impeached, however, in 100 years every above average high school history student will know that there were two Presidents in US History to be impeached. They will have no google clue why Johnson was tried but they will surely know about a colorful story – the color being blue like a dress – behind Clinton’s impeachment.

And yet Clinton had a Presidential pedigree because we as a nation probably would have elected Hillary over the War Hero had Obama not made the lady with the big hat sob her eyes out.

Here’s the thing in horse racing each generation is bred to run faster and have bigger balls (Mine That Bird – the no balled Gelding being an exception). In contrast, in the American Presidential Experiment, as John Quincy Adams & GW Bush have proved, each generation seems to get slower and suffer from smaller balls.

I won’t cast a vote on Pedigree, but I do like my horses to have it. Mind That Bird may just win the Triple Crown, unless he gets beat by a horse named Brett’s Viking Ship at the Belmont.

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