In 1973, The United States was in turmoil. Between the long and arduous Vietnam War, and the controversial Watergate scandal, Americans were left listless. The country needed a common figure they could rally around in order to reinvigorate their spirit. The answer was found in a majestic colt named Secretariat. With his glistening red coat, white and blue silks, a strong will, and a sense of determination, he embodied American pride. On the first Saturday of May in 1973, Secretariat captured the country’s attention when he won the Kentucky Derby. Only two weeks later on May 19, he won the Preakness Stakes in easy fashion. Finally, on June 9, less than three weeks after President Nixon revealed his involvement in the Watergate scandal, Secretariat secured his place in history, by winning the Belmont Stakes by an amazing 31 lengths. He became the first Triple Crown winner since Citation accomplished the feat in 1948. It was hands down, the most perfect display of athletic talent ever seen. In that moment, America came together and embraced their hero.
Forty-two years later, and Americans are once again jaded by controversy. We are all incensed by the tragedies occurring around the world. We recognize our role in the conflicts, but we have no answers to solve the problems. Politically, we are evenly divided, and we are in desperate need of something to reunite us. For the past three weeks, we have been able to distance ourselves from the country’s problems by watching yet another amazing thoroughbred, aptly named American Pharoah. He is a seamlessly beautiful colt who, like Secretariat, embodies the American will. American Pharoah has already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and he is poised to take on his fresh competitors this upcoming Saturday on June 6 in the Belmont Stakes in New York.
Many dedicated horse racing fans have questioned the overall impact on the sport if we get the chance to have our first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Personally, I find that idea to be irrelevant. Even though attendance has dropped at most tracks across the country, the online medium has renewed a whole new interest in the sport. But, most importantly, no matter the outcome, high stakes racing isn’t going anywhere. So, we need to stop focusing on the negative side of things, and start recognizing the importance of this moment. American Pharoah has a chance to give us the same feeling Secretariat did back in 1973. Now, I am in no way trying to equate the physical abilities of the two colts. That is not my objective. My intent is to show how this isn’t just about horse racing. This is about rejuvenating the American spirit, and vicariously experiencing that amazing sense of strength through American Pharoah.
We need to cherish this moment, and take in all that is good about it, while appreciating the good that will come of it. Of course, there is always a negative thought that we could dwell on, but why let such an amazing event go to waste? So, for now, let’s rally around American Pharoah, and hope that we get to witness our own piece of American history.