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Frank Gray

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Chrome’s loss takes heavy toll on dream

I’m not what you would call the sporting type.

I go fishing, but the fish just won’t bite for me, so I don’t do it often.

I had some friends who once tried to get me to go hunting with them – with a bow – but after being told how to clean a deer I decided it wasn’t for me.

I like horse racing, even though I can’t tell a nag from a champion.

There’s something special about horse racing.

When you’re young you can fantasize about winning the Super Bowl or the World Series or the Indianapolis 500, but we quickly age and those daydreams disappear forever.

Horse racing, though, is the kind of thing that guys can get into when they’re old and fat.

That’s exactly what happened this year. A couple of guys who supposedly work in a factory pooled their money and bought a horse for about what you’d pay for a 10-year-old pickup truck, and that horse gave birth to a colt, and the two men daydreamed it would be a champ.

And the daydream came true. California Chrome stunned by winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and when it came time for the Belmont, it seemed almost everyone was rooting for Chrome.

That’s because Chrome is an Everyman’s horse, owned by ordinary guys who had a stroke of incredible luck the likes of which the rest of us can only fantasize about.

In the Kentucky Derby, almost all the entrants were owned by the filthy rich, some of them billionaires.

And then there was California Chrome, owned by a couple of good old boys in cowboy hats.

Of course we all know what happened. The horse lost in the Belmont.

I wasn’t that surprised. California Chrome’s times weren’t that great in either the Derby or the Preakness, and at a mile and a half, the Belmont has long been a killer of dreams.

But then one of California Chrome’s owners unleashed his rage. The race isn’t fair. There were other horses in the race that hadn’t been in the Derby or the Preakness. They were rested. They shouldn’t be allowed in the race. The races are too close together. The whole Triple Crown system is broken. It needs to be fixed.

The raving was unprecedented. You could call it bad form.

I don’t agree with what the guy said. The Triple Crown isn’t broken. It has operated this way since the 1800s.

Winning all three is tough, especially against fresh competition. Life ain’t fair.

But I took his comments with a grain of salt. This wasn’t some billionaire looking for just one more unique thing to add to a long list of unique acquisitions.

This was an ordinary guy living an unbelievable dream, a dream that was wilder and crazier than even his most outlandish fantasies three years ago.

I’ve read that he now regrets the rant.

He shouldn’t have flown off the handle. But the race, and the rant, are over, and all he’s left with is bitter disappointment. You have to understand where he was coming from.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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