Chasing history

It is called horsepower for a reason.

In an age of internal combustion engines, NASCAR and Formula One, horse racing is left by the wayside. But one horse hopes to change all that Saturday. New-York-bred Funny Cide could thrust, if only for a little bit, horse racing back into the spotlight as horse and jockey Jose Santos make a run for the Triple Crown.

The Triple Crown consists of three races, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, which is to be run Saturday. Funny Cide and Santos have already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and are hoping to make history Saturday by being the first Triple Crown winners in 25 years.

The 25-year drought should be the least of their worries. What they should be worried about is the fact that in more than 115 years of the Triple Crown being run, only 11 horses have walked away with the title. The first horse to achieve the esteemed title was Sir Barton in 1919.

The longest winning dearth before the current one was, ironically, also 25 years. Secretariat’s win in 1973 was the first since Citation’s in 1948. Secretariat was the first in a trinity of riders to win the Triple Crown that decade; the last was Affirmed in 1978.

If it is looking difficult to win now, it unbelievably gets worse. If Funny Cide wins the Triple Crown, he would not only break a 25-year drought and join the ranks of an elite club, he would also become the first ever gelding to win the Triple Crown. A gelding is a male horse that has been castrated just like a dog that goes into the vet to get fixed. Funny Cide was gelded due to the fact that he was a ridgling, meaning that one of his testicles failed to drop.

Neutering is a common practice; it helps to calm a horse down, but may or may not adversely affect athletic performance. The only problem with neutering a horse like Funny Cide is that he cannot breed, therefore, his owners miss out on the most lucrative part of horse racing; breeders buying the right to have Funny Cide father their mares’ children.

Before Funny Cide came along, a gelding had not won the Kentucky Derby since 1929, and a New York bred horse had never won. Funny Cide was both, and blew the competition away by almost five lengths.

Horse racing has ever so steadily lost popularity, but Funny Cide may be able to bring back some glory days for the sport known in Britain as the ‘sport of kings’, even if it is only for a very short time. It does not matter what sport is played, having the chance to be one of only 12 to do something spectacular in your sport is amazing.

The time has come for another Triple Crown winner, and why not Funny Cide? This country loves an underdog, and Funny Cide certainly fits the profile. With all of history against him, the New York gelding will make his run toward the history books Saturday at 6:38 p.m.