Spectacular Bid was a great horse. There are just no two ways about it. He had it all … all that is, except for a Triple Crown. Sunday Silence was also a special horse. After watching his 11-length runaway in the Santa Anita Derby and subsequent thrilling wins in the Derby and Preakness, I really believed he could become our 12th Triple Crown winner. Of course he did not. Of all the horses that hit New York with racing’s Holy Grail on the line since Affirmed did the deed, these were not only the two I felt were the best horses, but they were also my two favorites. I was crushed in 1979 when Spectacular Bid began to fade and Coastal rushed up on the rail. (Yes I know Golden Act also passed him late, but I am convinced The Bid would have held him off if it had been for the win.) Ten years later, I felt equal pain when Easy Goer enveloped Sunday Silence coming out of the turn on his way to a good old fashioned thrashing of my choice. Coastal and Easy Goer were my villains.
They defeated my racing heroes in the one race that could have placed them on an even higher historic ground then their excellent careers took them to. I honestly held a grudge against Coastal and Easy Goer for years. Silly isn’t it?
They were two excellent horses in their own right. Coastal was one of the most underrated horses of my lifetime. Among his stakes wins was a Peter Pan romp by 14 lengths in the race before the Belmont. Easy Goer was a champion that collected grade 1 wins in New York like little boys collect baseball cards. But to me, the pair was like the Red Sox to a Yankee fan and the Cowboys to a Redskin fan.
To younger fans, replace Coastal and Easy Goer with Touch Gold or Victory Gallop or Birdstone and you know how I felt times two. But notice I used the past tense there. You see, I’ve let my bad feelings melt away. They may have stolen Triple Crowns from this young race fan, but I no longer cringe at hearing the name Coastal, or bristle when Easy Goer is mentioned.
It’s kind of cathartic in a way. After 34 years I am more than ready for another Triple Crown winner. I now fully appreciate how very difficult a proposition this is. In the seventies, I did not. I have also shed my resentment to Coastal and Easy Goer, the horses that denied my heroes of the ultimate immortality for a racehorse. They were not villains. They were excellent horses who just happened to be the rivals of my favorites. They won the Belmont, and they desereved to do so.
If I’ll Have Another wins the 2012 Belmont Stakes, I will happily welcome him with open arms because he earned it. If another horse beats him on Saturday, sure I will be disappointed, but I will also respect the winner for his accomplishment. The Triple Crown should be extremely hard to win, that’s what makes it so special.
Dear Coastal and Easy Goer, I forgive you.