23 May 2006

Preakness reflections

Yes, we were there when it happened. Though my view was obscured by a bald man's head that turns up in a number of my Pimlico photos, from our vantage point on the apron, we could see that something had happened.

Barbaro had just passed our section when I first noticed something. At first I thought Barbaro was rank, and then, he veered sideways, and it was clear that something was very wrong. Unable to see just what, my friends and I couldn't focus very much on the race itself; we kept trying to peer around shoulders and necks to see if we could glimpse something that would give us some idea of the severity of the injury.

Then the race finally ended, and the horse ambulance rolled by. A friend and I risked standing on our little plastic chairs to improve our chances of learning something. She had the better view and kept the rest of us posted on what she could see.

"They're putting up a screen," she said. "Why would they do that?" I told her that I thought it was to prevent the crowd from seeing something we shouldn't see. "Like if they put him down?" Yeah.

The stands were heavy with anxiety; there was a sort of hush as we all waited, waited for some sort of news. Folks were pulling out their phones and calling friends at home to find out what the television announcers had to say. No one asked what the exacta would pay, or "is that Bob Costas over there?" At least in my section, people just milled about, murmuring mindless things like "I hope he's ok."

When the ambulance passed us on its way out of Pimlico, and we could see Barbaro's head, a sort of muted cheer went up. Out in the winner's circle, Bernardini was being draped with flowers, but that's not what we were applauding. We were just glad that the Kentucky Derby winner was still alive. Especially since so many of the folks in attendance had jumped on the Barbaro bandwagon. Throughout the day, you'd hear strangers talking about how history might be made today, we might be watching a Triple Crown winner today, all right.

Let's hope in years to come, they'll say history was made that day... that those New Bolton vets did some amazing surgery that day.


John said...

Nice post. . .thanks

Superfecta said...

I thought about getting a ticket the weekend before...glad I couldn't manage it in the end. Thanks for the report from the scene.