It could happen in 2014 … Ron the Greek, enjoying his new digs in the Middle East, takes to Meydan’s Tapeta surface like me to a well put together Italian Beef. The beautiful, then seven-year-old, never looks better leading up to the world’s richest race, and sure enough, he explodes on the far turn and rolls home a going away winner of the Dubai World Cup. His new connections are over the moon with the victory. His old connections celebrate in the victory, as well. His even older connections take great pride in the international victory, as does United States racing as a whole, who quickly claim a victory for America. Not so fast, says King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, who proclaims Ron the Greek’s big win as glorious proof positive of the state of racing in Saudi Arabia. The argument over Ron the Greek grows tension between American and Middle Eastern racing bodies, and eventually a special panel is enlisted to resolve the conflict. In a surprising twist, the nation of Greece is awarded the sole right to claim victory in Dubai.
It could happen in 2014 … I’m invited this spring to appear on the Jim Rome on Showtime program to talk about the upcoming Kentucky Derby. Pretty geeked up for my first television gig, I’m ready to get Down and Derby with Rome, but somehow things go terribly wrong. When I pick against his still undefeated gelding, Shared Belief, Rome’s mood quickly turns. At first, when he starts calling me “Chrissy Evert,” I naturally assume he must be talking about the 1974 Filly Triple Crown winner, but after a few more “Chrissies” are thrown my way, I realize he’s not only disagreeing with my analysis of the Derby, but he’s also questioning my manhood. Tables get turned over, chairs get thrown … it was quite the scene, man. Needless to say, I am requested to never set foot on the Jim Rome on Showtime program again.
It could happen in 2014 … Wrong about the Derby, Shared Belief holds off Honor Code under the twin spires, to win the roses by a dwindling half-length. In the Preakness, trainer Shug McGaughey promises to stay closer to the California horse early, and sure enough, the pair hooks up on the far turn and battles headlong for the Pimlico finish line. The Preakness photo reveals Shared Belief a short nose in front of Honor Code, setting up a third meeting for the rivals in the Belmont Stakes. And this time, the Triple Crown will be on the line. With the best American rivalry in years unfolding and the possibility of the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years, racing becomes the talk of the sports world. I don’t watch, but apparently Claire Novak knocks ‘em dead on Jim Rome’s show. When Belmont Day finally arrives, pure electricity is in the air as Belmont hosts its largest crowd ever. In the race itself, Shared Belief spurts clear on the turn to open up by three lengths, but Honor Code is running hard on the outside. Just when it gets close inside the sixteenth pole, a solar flare hits and all transmission from Belmont Park is lost. Only those in attendance see the thrilling finish. I bemoan the fact that I missed it to coach pee-wee softball earlier that afternoon.
It could happen in 2014 … Armed with a sincere desire to take our families on an unforgettable vacation, experience a new culture, and witness the best turf race in all the world, Tony Bada Bing and I embark on a journey to France. Before we even arrive to Longchamp for the Arc, though, a small, but volatile international incident happens. Innocently attempting to enjoy an early meal at a Parisian bistro, we instead, and unknowingly enrage a nation. Between Bada Bing mangling the word croissant in a heavy Boston accent, and me repeatedly asking if they have any cheese that is less stinky, a growing horde of French nationalists become increasingly less hospitable. A laugh at the thought of eating a snail from someone at our table becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The Prefecture of Police of Paris is called in, and Bada Bing and I are detained indefinitely. When our plight eventually arrives on the desk of President Obama, his one sentence response becomes a part of American history … “Let them eat snails.”