American Pharoah….A Rare Breed

As an avid thoroughbred racing fan, having been reared in Hot Springs, Arkansas….home of Oaklawn Racetrack and the Arkansas Derby, I watched with wild enthusiasm the race season leading up to the Triple Crown. The stories leading up to the Belmont Stakes are nothing short of inspiring. Here are the facts about the race and the players:

  • Jockey, Victor Espinoza, has attempted to win the Triple Crown not once – but twice before. The races leading up to the Belmont are hard run and hard earned. Yet, the Triple Crown was snatched from him by just inches.
  • Bob Baffert, the trainer of American Pharoah, had been to the Triple Crown THREE times – and lost each time. This past year was his FOURTH attempt. Let’s face it, getting just one shot at the Triple Crown is rare enough; yet, being there three times and losing each time….is heart wrenching.
  • It has been 37 YEARS since the Triple Crown was won by Affirmed in 1978.
  • The third leg of the Triple Crown is the most demanding of the three races – it is a mile and half AND the horses that are vying for the Triple Crown are not as fresh as many of the horses waiting for you.
  • Victor Espinoza was the 11th of 12 children from Mexico City- from a very poor upbringing. He donates 10% of his winnings to Children’s Cancer. He was the OLDEST and the first Latino to every win the Triple Crown.
  • Now….the horse! American Pharoah has a cropped tail, thanks to another horse chewing it off! And, he has been admired for his warm, friendly demeanor with people… unusual trait for horses of his caliber.Yet, thanks to winning every single race he has run – he now has given his owner, Zayat Stables, an astounding $20 million price tag for his breeding rights!

I have written other pieces about inspiring horse stories….the article I wrote several years ago about Seabiscuit was a favorite. That story will inspire even the most jaded person. So, what can we take away from this exciting and history making story? A few things:

1. It is never EVER to late to achieve your dreams. As LLCool J would say: “Dreams don’t have Deadlines”. And as I wrote in my second book, “Is This Seat Taken?® It’s Never to Late to Find the Right Seat”…..we can create the life we want at any stage. It is simply never to late, as long as we have breath. And these individuals….Bob Baffert and Victor Espinoza are living examples of this fact.

2. Looks can be deceiving, and one cannot judge a book by its cover! The horse with the stunted tale and misspelled name – proves this point in spades.

3.  The steady, committed hand wins the race. Victor Espinoza ranked #3 out of 1266 jockeys, and had $7.11 million in earnings in 2015. His life did not start off grand, in fact it started off on a dairy farm in rural, Hildalgo, Mexico. And Bob Baffert, though ranked #2 out of 4827 trainers and winning over $7.5 million in 2015…..had never won the coveted Triple Crown. Yet, NEITHER gave up. Despite achieving tremendous wealth, they continued to push, strive, learn, and grow to ultimately grasp the figurative ‘golden ring’.

In closing, the thoughts that come to mind are the beautiful and well known words offered by Theodore Roosevelt.  It has inspired me for years, and I hope will inspire my readers as well:

“It is not the critic who counts; nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, and sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

To this, we must aspire. We have the opportunity to create the lives we want and about which we dream. The only thing that can hold us back is our own mindset and self-talk. Let’s be the role model for our children and our grandchildren; and make our lives and our world all that it can be. American Pharoah showed us the way…..let’s follow his example!!