Watching Andy Murray become the first British man in 77 years to win Wimbledon yesterday brought a myriad of emotions. As a lifelong fan of tennis, I was both inspired and relieved by the accomplishment. Watching the universal outpouring of love and appreciation by the fans, members, and colleagues of Murray, towards the triumphant tennis star was nothing but joyful. I felt both thrilled for the hard working young man, as well as, a good feeling about the human race. I could not even imagine what it was like for a Brit. Forget tennis, forget sport, Murray is a national hero, a King among men. It struck me that this is exactly what American racing needs.
Currently we have a pair of glorious geldings that should be praised for their longevity and accomplishments. In Wise Dan and Game On Dude, American fans should have precisely what they want … a pair of grade 1 winning machines that come back and sustain their excellence year after year. At six-years-old, both seem to be in the form of their lives. Unfortunately, so many comments that I see come in on the duo, are not positive in nature.
“Wise Dan has never won at ten furlongs.” “His connections only run him in races beneath his stature.” “No wants to see Wise Dan run in another mile race on the grass.”
“Game On Dude just won another grade 1 allowance race.” “He can’t beat good horses outside of California.” “Game On Dude is the best of a bad bunch.”
If the pair could only read, it would be enough to give them an inferiority complex. It all makes me wonder if should Game On Dude win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Wise Dan wins another Breeders’ Cup Mile this year, in what creative ways the critics will choose to cut them down. You just know that wins in the World Championships will not be enough to make them American racing heroes. Or at least, not anywhere near universally so.
Go back a few years and you will remember a couple of very special ladies of American racing in Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. In a word, both female runners were fantastic. Zenyatta racked up grade 1 wins in California like they were going out of style, all the while maintaining her perfect record right up until the end. Rachel Alexandra won races three-year-old fillies were not supposed to win and was as brilliant a filly as I’ve ever seen, and that includes Ruffian. Yet somehow, they were not enough for fans of racing. Zenyatta was belittled for her competition. Rachel’s reputation was smeared for her 5-2-3-0 record at four. And certainly both fantastic females were constantly cut down by the other fan base. It wasn’t pretty.
Why must we talk so poorly of these wonderful horses? Surely Andy Murray never experienced this kind of treatment before he finally broke through on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon? Well, actually he did. It’s true, before winning the biggest of all tennis tournaments, and in his home nation, Murray was all too often the brunt of harsh criticism. Maybe it is only human nature.
Become the first British man in more than three-quarters of a century to raise the Wimbledon trophy, and the negativism falls away faster than a country can raise its collective arms in glorious triumph. Murray is now the man for breaking through an invisible, but all too tangible barrier.
Of course, American racing has the same type of holy grail. An achievement so magical that the sport will come to a stop for all to rejoice. When a horse finally wins the Triple Crown they will become universally loved. A true hero for us all to admire and praise. At least that is what I hope, because American racing needs a hero.