.......and Reflections

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Race Day Holiday Weekend

This blog is about the middle of somewhere. It is somewhat of a digression, but the story behind the title is in perfect harmony with the heart of the "middle of nowhere." This writing is about horses, Thoroughbred Racing and some concentric "winning circles". The story is about having a dream, setting goals, resolve, hard work and ultimately great accomplishment.

The story begins with a young "tomboy" who spent hours pretending to be a horse; "running" on hands and knees all around the house, bucking and jumping as if free in the wild. The tomboy grew up with a Mother and sister that share her love of horses. The tomboy evolved into a beautiful girl that looks anything like one that would "run on her knees." Mother and daughters continue to keep horses and spend warm Ohio summers, trail riding whenever they can squeeze the time.

The tomboy wasn't happy enough to just have horses. She couldn't be the horse she tried to be as a kid, but she wanted to run like the wind and there is no better way to feel the wind than atop a thoroughbred racing horse, trained and running with all it's power and energy. Amanda was determined to be a jockey.

The dream began a long time ago, I suppose, but it took years to become a reality. The tomboy took her talents to the corporate world where she is a tenured executive secretary and administrative assistant. Thanks to the Company, that admires their employee's accomplishments and were flexible with her schedule, Amanda has proven her value in the Board room and on the race track.

In 2006 Amanda started galloping horses at Thistledown Race track in Cleveland. In 2007 she started racing as a jockey and quickly proved her legitimacy with wins and placing well on, perhaps, not the greatest rides at the track. Amanda's spring summer and fall schedule starts with going to the track virtually every morning and working horses, continued with a full corporate workday, and racing part time in the evenings and on weekends. She works very hard.

As love and life would have it, Amanda met Francisco at the track and they married. Francisco is a race horse trainer that works very hard at preparing horses to win and remain healthy and vibrant. They both started their professional horse racing careers with a dream, resolve, and hard work. Now, as it should be, they have set new goals to sharpen their shared dream even further.

So the July 4th weekend, 2011 was an opportunity for me to go to Thistledown and watch Amanda race and Francisco work. I enjoy floating around the track taking pictures of family going about the business of racing. July 1st Amanda had three races. Her second race, six furlongs, was on a good horse named Klassi Berti. Amanda rode a great race and Klassi Berti ran just as well. It was a beautiful experience to watch a whole lot of hard work and sacrifice come to fruition in a race. With that said, racing is often a sport of disappointment, rigorous training and absolute commitment.

It's not hard to imagine the dangers inherent to thoroughbred racing. It is an unforgiving sport. Thoroughbred horses are big, powerful and spirited. Amanda and Francisco are keenly aware that they could be dumped while exercising or racing. Every race starts in the starting gate. In this confined space for just a few seconds there is horse, a jockey and an experienced starter who's job is to prepare the horse to launch from the starting gate. Seven or more horses launched from a confined space and speeding down a race track has trouble written all over it. From start to finish this is a dangerous, hazardous environment that very, very few dare undertake. Injury is common and sometimes life threatening and career ending. Each race is followed closely by an ambulance.

But July 1st and three races were safe and uneventful for all, and resulted in a win and two more respectable finishes. The real winners are Francisco and Amanda. Amanda is doing what she loves and to the very best of her many capabilities. Francisco is doing the same. That they are successful in this sport is a credit to their talents and skills.

So what does this racing story have to do with the middle of nowhere? It is an example that is worth emulating. All of us need to have dreams and a plan to make them a reality. It isn't always easy, perhaps never. But if you want to enjoy the places in the middle of nowhere and you want get the most those experiences you need to invest time, energy and preparation to enjoy them to the fullest.

I wasn't happy saying I have visited Yellowstone National Park. I wasn't happy with watching birds and listing them. Amanda wouldn't be happy watching a thoroughbred race and we all should follow her lead in having the resolve, taking the time, and making the commitment necessary to be in the race and winning more than just a few. I am proud to be continuously inspired by my daughter, the tomboy that ran on her knees.

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