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Posts Tagged ‘Triple Crown’


The three-year-old red colt, Animal Kingdom, a 20-1 long shot, won the 2011 Kentucky Derby today by 2.75 lengths. Photo by Pat Lang Photography.

THE FINISH LINE ON DERBY DAY

And the winner is: Animal Kingdom, by 2.75 lengths. Beth Harris of the Huffington Post, one of the first to report the win, described it as “a win by a broken nose.”  Animal Kingdom’s regular jockey, Robby Albarado, was sidelined with a broken nose, the result of a horse’s kick. Rider John Velazquez was left without a horse when his mount, Uncle Mo, was scratched from the race because of illness. So the riderless  Animal Kingdom and the horseless Velasquez were united – and won. The odds were long, 20-1.

I was thinking about running red horses just this morning at the barn. When I turned out my mare, Callie, she ran like the wind, snorting and flagging her tail. She was going at a speed faster than usual for her, and she made a perfect moving picture. As her red dunn body flashed by, I thought of the late Secretariat, the famous race horse whose nickname was Red.  A timely thought, I mused, since today was the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby, which Secretariat won in 1973. When he was a foal, “experts” said he was too pretty to be a race horse.

In America, the first Saturday in May is always Derby Day at Churchill Downs racetrack in the state of Kentucky. Thoroughbred horses thundering around the 1.25-mile course are said to be making a Run for the Roses, because a garland of roses is placed around the neck of the winning horse. It is considered the most exciting two minutes in sports.

The Kentucky Derby is the first in a series of three pivotal races together known as the Triple Crown. It’s a rare year when one horse wins all three. Since 1948, only three horses have done so:  Secretariat in 1973; Seattle Slew in 1977; and Affirmed in 1978. Before that, the Triple Crown was generally won every few years or so. We’re currently in the second longest stretch, 27 years, without a Triple Crown winner.

Perhaps Animal Kingdom will change that. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that a horse with a name like that can and does! He’s red, too: The winning color in my book.

CONSIDERING MOTHER’S DAY

As an adoptive mom, I  believe women who create families this way are kindred spirits no matter where they live, what they do, or who they are; or in this case, what they are. Lilly, the barn cat with the three cute-as-a-button kittens is now mother to another!

Pat, a neighbor to the barn where I keep my horse, found an abandoned kitten in a ditch and rescued it this week. Black, and not much bigger than a person’s thumb, the little guy was screaming for nourishment and warmth.

Three little kittens lost their mittens. No, wait: That‘s a nursery rhyme! These three little kittens have a new little brother and seem quite smitten. These are barn cat Lilly’s kittens at three weeks: They’re a few weeks older now. This week, a kitten so new it’s eyes were still shut, was found in a nearby ditch. Lilly took it right in and is nurturing the baby as if it were her own. The three original kittens act as if it’s been there all along. No family drama here, just business as usual. Photo by Ella Mae Hays.

Having heard about Lilly’s babies, Pat mentioned the orphan to Teresa, owner of the barn (and Lilly).  They decided to see if Lilly would accept a substantially smaller – and male – kitten into her lair. I wish I’d been witness to the introduction. Apparently Lilly didn’t even blink, just started licking and nursing the little guy right away.

Another woman who stables her horse at the barn hadn’t yet heard about the foundling kitten. Imagine her surprise when she peeked in at Lilly and family and saw a fourth: I hear she said something to Lilly about “a half-baked bun in the oven.”

After just a few days with his new family, the baby, tummy full of mother-Lilly milk, is calm, quiet and struggling to stay near, yet stay clear, of the big sisters tumbling about. The original kitten threesome is approaching five weeks in age. They are experimenting with play-attacking  and somersaulting each other all over the place.They’ll be swinging from stirrups and hiding in riding boots soon.

The big sisters deserve credit, too. I guess their girl genes/instincts kick in automatically. They were instantly protective of their wee sibling. The one I call Blackie (on the left in the above photo) actually assumed the arched-back, hair-raised, mean-cat stance and hissed at me in her tiny voice when I unintentionally startled the baby. I was shocked and awed that something so tiny could appear so big and be so brave.

Lilly yawns, then stretches, seeming to say, “Yes, they are ALL mine, and aren’t they all just too cute for words.” Good girl

I was thinking about how easy and routine this all seemed to Lilly, and discovered  THIS WEEK’S ANIMAL LESSON: FIRST THINGS FIRST. What’s more first on the list of first things than ensuring the safety and welfare of offspring, no matter the species?

It being Mother’s Day tomorrow, I’d like to share this very special poem with cat-mom Lilly, plus animal lovers and adoptive moms everywhere. It’s given me much solace over the years. I wish I knew who penned it.

“Not flesh of my flesh,

Not bone of my bone

But still, miraculously, my own.

Never forget

For a single minute,

You didn’t grow under my heart but in it.”

And thanks to my son, Adam, for making me Mom. I love you.

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