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Gatsby, Union Rags provide lessons in optimism

A Guest Blog by Heather Seiden 
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”  

This is the famous last line from the book “The Great Gatsby,” and to me, the quote reminds us that the past often stays with us longer than we’d like, and we’re continually fighting it to stay optimistic and look towards the future. 

Our sport has both a glorious and checkered past, filled with true highs and lows. Its magnificence seen in moments such as giddy anticipation of a possible Triple Crown winner, and its sadness felt in the moments when that anticipation leads to disappointment.  These highs and lows stay with us, reminding us not to get too emotional one way or the other.  But that’s hard to do. 

However, we do beat on and more glorious moments come our way. A new star emerges and captivates us with a particularly impressive performance.  The candle is lit once again, and oftentimes, that flame burns brightly  - other times it flickers, and sometimes the candle goes out altogether. The cycle continues – up and down, high and low.  

I probably sound like a pessimist here, but I truly am an optimist, although I sometimes need to remind myself of this fact. For example, when the news about Union Rags being sidelines with a tendon injury started to appear, I felt like someone had punched me.   I thought of the past, the present and the future, and how perhaps we’ve not yet seen the best of this handsome boy.  I thought of Mrs. Wyeth, his owner, and how she must feel. She has a special relationship with her horse, obvious by the photos of the two of them together. 

After the initial reaction, I started to turn it around and think more optimistically. Yes, I am still sad I won’t get to see Rags race again this year, but I remembered how fortunate I was to be able to see him race in person three times and even meet him up close and personal.  I looked to the recent past and remembered the moment when I saw that Union Rags was going to win the Belmont Stakes. I remember screaming, crying and hugging people.  It was so special to see him win that race in person.  Also, I had placed a nice bet for a friend and it was fun to cash that big ticket!  

I remembered the present. He’s injured but he’s still alive.  Yet another good thing to think about. 

I thought about the future – he may come back to race, or he may not. I’ll look forward to seeing his return if he comes back to the track, but if he’s retired, he’ll be a very happy and healthy horse on a beautiful farm somewhere, and most likely, I’ll get to visit him there.   

The point is there is a future for Union Rags, and there is always the future for racing fans. It’s important to savor the highs of the past, let go of the lows and perhaps think of the stars in the future. Yes, the future will bring more highs and lows but to experience it and feel those moments of magnificence, it’s worth it. To quote that famous book again -  “For “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther….”  


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Older Comments about Gatsby, Union Rags provide lessons in optimism...

Wonderful write-up!! I prayer Union Rags gets better and returns to racing. And wonderful connection to one of Americas greatest works of fiction!

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