Colleen Slattery, Contributing Writer
The famous race scene from the musical “My Fair Lady,” in which a crowd of high-society men and women watches listlessly and silently as a pack of horses thunders by, came to mind as I navigated the crowds last Saturday at Lone Star Park, striving to catch a glimpse of the racehorses over the heads of an indifferent crowd.
Lone Star Park, just 20 minutes from the University of Dallas by car, is located in Grand Prairie, TX, and hosts horse races from April to July and September to November. Since it was Derby Day, I decided last Saturday that it would be the perfect time to head out, get some sun and watch the magnificent sport of horse racing.
Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the United States (as well as the world), and, although it may have fallen out of society’s everyday viewing, it is still honored and loved in many areas of the U.S. One of the largest and most well-known horse-racing events in the country is the Kentucky Derby, which was run this past weekend at the famous Churchill Downs track in Louisville, Ky.
The Derby never fails to bring out the southerner in every lady and gentleman who packs into the crowded grandstand. Men sport their best seersucker suits, while the women compete with each other to display the most grandiose hats imaginable, and all spectators stop sipping on their mint juleps to sing “My Old Kentucky Home” right before the horses are loaded into the gate.
This past weekend, the fastest horse out on the track was California Chrome, a long-shot horse from California with no real pedigree. The owners of the bay-red horse, Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, neither of whom had extensive experience in horse racing, bred an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion at their humble one-horse stable, and California Chrome was the result. In an industry dominated by horses carefully bred for hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is amazing that California Chrome emerged this past weekend as the Kentucky Derby winner.
The miracle was not just in Chrome’s pedigree, but also in his training. His trainer, Art Sherman, became the oldest trainer ever to win the Derby when Chrome passed the finish line to the deafening roar of the crowd.
The crowd at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie suddenly came alive around me as the time neared for the Kentucky Derby (which was televised on a big screen on the track), and the previously hot, tired and languid crowd began to let out cries of “C’mon, boys!” and “Let’s go, Samraat!” People waved their fists in the air, shouting out encouragement for their favorites in the race that was a thousand miles away.
As California Chrome passed the finish line, excitement and joy showed on the faces of the viewers around me, and on mine as well. It didn’t matter that I had never heard of many of the horses in the race before that day; man takes delight in competition that demonstrates the beauty and strength of God’s creation.
I encourage any and every University of Dallas student to head out to the races at Lone Star Park to experience just this phenomenon at some point in your career. It will be the best five dollars you’ve spent in a long time.