Monday, July 6, 2009

Pride of ownership: Thrilling in the victory

I don't even think the contest is close. The best commercial in all of horse racing is the West Point Thoroughbreds ad known as "Sherm's Call."

In case you've missed it -- and if you're a fan who watches any amount of racing on television, I don't see how you could've -- the screen is largely black save the West Point logo, a disclaimer noting that the dialogue is an actual phone message left by a West Point horse co-owner, and the requisite information about how to contact West Point about partnership opportunities. No video was necessary. In fact, pictures might kill the moment.

In the ad, "Sherm" describes his horse, the West Point horse in which he owns a share, making his way forward from fifth place in the pack to take the lead, then draw off to win. The exuberance in that man's voice is indescribable. If you've clicked the "Sherm's Call" links here, you've heard it again for yourself.

I'm in tears by the end of that recording, every single time. ... In that moment, I want to be that guy.

My blogging pal over at Odds On Favorite, Bill Yates, got to be that guy, and his wife, Judy, "that gal," this weekend. Watching from their computer screen, they cheered home a gutsy 7-year-old gelding named Passed Over, who won Race 4 Sunday at Finger Lakes in his typical running style, "lagging" at the back and driving home with a rush. Bill tells the whole story of how they first saw the horse racing on HRTV long ago, how the horse slipped into semi-retirement and then returned to the races, and how Bill decided to call the trainer, David Markgraf, to see if he'd sell him a 10 percent share for Judy's birthday present. She loved it. Every man needs a woman like that.

The gray Langfuhr gelding has been paying the bills with seconds and thirds since Bill and Judy got on board. On Sunday, he broke through. And I can't imagine yet quite what that feels like to be a part of that, even if you "only" own 10 percent, even if you're just watching on TV or at the computer.

Congrats Judy, Bill, David and Passed Over. May he happily close from the clouds again and again, in good health, until it's time for his well-earned retirement.

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