The People’s Horse From Losing Claimer to Hall of Famer by Cliff Rhys James
Many official lists purport to rank the top thoroughbred race horses in the long and splendid history of the Sport of Kings, as it’s so often called. And while total number of victories, Triple Crown wins, purse earnings and other objective measures are used to buttress arguments for this horse or that, these lists invariably fail us, even as they fail to measure certain qualities. Why? Because those qualities, by their very nature, def y measurement. They radiate from the living with a supernatural force easy to sense but difficult to grasp in any empirical way. In fact, we know them when we see them, these real but elusive, perceptible but spirit-like qualities that ultimately define all creatures ~ animating some more than others, even as they defy easy analysis. I can tell you exactly how many hands high a horse stands at the withers, what he weighs, or how fast he covers a quarter-mile sprint. But I can’t tell you if a horse has the heart of a champion or the fighting spirit to charge from fifteen lengths back in winning a distance race
until he does it ~ again and again and again. That’s not to suggest that truly great race horses like Man o’ War, Secretariat, Citation or Affirmed don’t deserve all the acclaim heaped on them through the years by adoring fans and press. They, after all, earned it on the track. I’m just saying that when it comes to a handful of lesser equine lights with all the
Stymie with Hirsch Jacobs.