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To Win The Triple Crown - Part 4 - The Preakness
 By Stay Untamed   •   17th Oct 2012   •   1,609 views   •   1 comments
To Win The Triple Crown

After two days of walking around the grass areas, Marie finally loads me into the trailer and we drive away. After about ten hours of driving, according to Marie, I get led off the trailer to another barn. Marie leads me to an area of stalls where I only see about thirteen others horses. All of them are from the last race. I nicker to a few, who recognize me and nicker back. Most of the horses are apart from each other by two stalls on each side of them. Marie leads me to the very end of the aisle, four stalls away from the horse next to me. I get a nice view of the track in the distance, and horses as they walk to the track and back.

I walk around the stall and decide it's a pretty good one, so I lie down and try to nap. As soon as I feel on the verge of sleep, Marie comes to the stall to take my rug and wraps. I stand quietly as she does and then I try to lie down again. She whips my butt with the lead line, then puts on my halter and leads me out of the stall.

She walks me down the trail with other horses, being ridden, so I watch them as they pass me. Marie walks me beside a bay horse that I remember from the Derby! Marie and the jockey talk. The horse, another stallion, watches me as I walk.

"So, congrats on the big win at the Derby." The stallion says.

I nod my head in a thank you then continue walking.

"You know, all of us are rooting for you." The stallion continues. "Actually, we all want you to win. It'd be really big if you won, since you already won the first leg of the series."

I stare at him, confused. "What are you talking about?"

"The Triple Crown." He looks at me, and seeing I don't know what he's talking about he explains. "The Triple Crown is made of the three biggest and most well-known races in America. The first is the Kentucky Derby, which you won. Next is the Preakness, which is longer, so don't tire yourself out too much before it. The last is the longest and hardest, the Belmont. That's where most horses lose their winning streak. It's about a mile and a half, so you definitely want to save your energy. Good luck."

The jockey spurs him, leaving me walking with Marie.

I walk quietly beside her. The Preakness would be the next race, since I just won the first one. Why would everyone be rooting for me if they wanted to win to?

A big entrance looms in front of us as this thought occurs. I walk through quickly, wanting to leave the track. I come out next to a grandstand where thousands of people will watch as I battle to win the Preakness. I watch horses gallop past on the turf. They all nod a little as they pass, but some glare at me and try to gallop faster, as if to intimidate me. I watch as one completely snatches the reins and gallops as fast as he can. I think of what the stallion said to me earlier.

Don't tire yourself out before it.

I shake my head at the fast horse, then look over and see the stallion with the advice. He nickers to me as he canters slowly by. The jockey kicks him faster and Marie smiles, thinking he's another admirer.

After seeing the track, Marie leads me back to the stall. I walk beside her calmly, still thinking about what the stallion said. He was rooting for me and he seemed completely relaxed when he was working. Maybe he doesn't want to win; he didn't seem as competitive as the other horses.

Marie puts me in my stall after putting more leg wraps on. She gives me some oats then leaves for the night.

...
The next week, Marie and the same groom from the past race come for me as soon as the sun comes up. They start doing the same routine as last time, so I stand still and watch other horses getting ready. I notice my closest neighbor is the stallion with advice. I nicker to him as they pull him out of his stall. He nickers back and nods a little. Marie pulls my head away, getting my attention. She puts my bridle on with the blinders, as well as a mask I've worn a couple times. It covers the upper half of my head, like a fly mask. It protects my face from flying dirt.

The groom puts on my saddle and pad then they both put on my leg wraps. My legs seem like they never go without leg wraps. After they're done, Marie walks me around the grass to loosen my muscles. I try to play, but she jerks my mouth and says I need to be serious. I pout and give a kick in disapproval, which makes her laugh.

After awhile, all of the horses in my aisle and I make our way to the standing stalls to wait for our race. I stand calmly next to Marie, even with all the people and flashes in front of me. Bill glides through them and makes his way to me. He smiles when he sees I recognize him. I nicker and push his shoulder like I always do. He laughs then starts to talk to Marie in a serious way.

Eric comes through the crowd next, followed by other jockeys. They all go into the stalls where their horses are. Eric comes and kisses me on the nose then starts listening as Bill gives him instructions.

I stand calmly. Bill gives Eric a leg up and then Marie leads us out of the stall. I follow behind the stallion with the advice as we walk to the track. Marie finally unclips me and lets me go when we get there.

A guide horse comes up beside me and starts leading me to the gate. I walk behind him, trying to look calm even though I'm ready to run. In my daily exercises, I was always out when other horses weren't so I couldn't race other horses. Eric, who had ridden me then, kept me at a slow canter the whole time. I was ready to run.

I start to jog a little next to the guide as we get closer to the gates. When we do, I'm number seven again, so I have to wait as the horses in front of me load in. One horse, a bay, refuses to go in. The jockey has to get off, then he gets into the gate. The jockey remounts him when he's standing calmly in the gate. I recognize the horse. He's the one that showed off when Marie was showing me the track. I know that he's a big competitor now.

I load calmly after the stallion with advice, as do the rest of the horses. Everything goes silent as we wait for the bell to chime and the gates to burst open so we can gallop into the fray. I concentrate on where I want to be in the pack and how I want to win this race.

The bell goes off and the horses charge forward leaving me in the dust!

My gate doesn't open!

I scream and kick at my gate to open. If they don't open now I won't have any chance of catching up. Eric screams at the gate hands to open the gate. They scramble around until finally one of them opens it. I plow through the door and charge my way down the track!

Fortunately, the pace isn't too fast and I focus on them about fifteen lengths ahead. I try to lengthen my stride so I won't waste energy that I'll need in the homestretch. I catch up with the last horse in the pack that happens to be the advice stallion. He smiles at me then urges me to go forward. I thank him then go around. A horse in front of him sees me and tries to block me, but I only swerve around him. He seems surprised and loses concentration for a minute, but just long enough for me to gain a head on him. Now I have to deal with three other horses. One tires and starts to fall back, but the others race side by side, blocking me from running around them, which would now waste too much time and energy. The outside one leans to his right, so I push a little with my nose on his butt. I'd never heard of anyone doing that in a race and I see why. He spooks and kicks out which cause him to trip. He loses his stride and leaves an opening for me to run through. I take the slot and rush past the other horse, who just seems to be running with no plan to win.

I run past about five other horses, who all seem too tired to care. I've finally caught up to the lead two horses. One is running out of steam, I can tell. He tries to stay with the other horse, but can't. I come up behind him and coast behind him for awhile.

When we reach the homestretch, he backs off and tires out. I push with my remaining energy and run beside the other horse. The bay who wants to win tries to knock me against the railing, but I push back which makes him leap away and fall behind. I push forward with my long legs, but he still stays close to me. I pass a marker on my left, meaning I'm almost there. Eric kicks and spurs me and tries to give me strength to go on. I take one giant leap to try and gain more ground, but the horse clips my foot as I do. I know Eric feels it, because I stumble and lose ground, but Eric knows what to do. He jerks my reins up, causing my head to stay up so I won't fall. The horse catches up with me, but he's inexperienced at this kind of win, unlike me.

I've never lost a race before, but I come close to loosing when racing side by side.

I extend my neck, sticking my nose out further than it ever has been. The other horse doesn't know why and just gives me a weird look. We battle it out until we pass the finish line, with my nose still out. Eric pulls me up immediately as the bay trots on. I slow to a walk and Eric hops down. I know something’s wrong. He bends down and checks my legs. He seems confused and surprised as he does, as though something should be wrong but isn't.

The guide horse comes up and stands next to us as Eric reluctantly gets back and we walk to the winner's circle. I hold my head high, proud of myself. Bill laughs with happiness as we walk into the circle. Everyone cheers and talks about how amazing I was!

I don't get to stay long though. Marie comes and gets me early to hose me down and check my legs. She leads me out of the circle and to my stall. After hosing me down, she runs her hands down my legs. She also seems confused after checking them.

Eric comes over and stands next to her as they look at me closely.

"I don't want to take any chance. Go ahead and ice her legs for tonight then we'll check them in the morning." He says.

Marie congratulates him on the win then wraps my legs in ice. She holds me as I graze, waiting on the ice to reduce any swelling. After an hour she takes it off and puts me away for the night, with an extra helping of oats. I watch her as she leaves, still with a worried look pasted on her face.

When I wake up in the morning Marie comes in and checks my legs again. She makes a noise in the back of her throat, like surprise, and stands up and looks at me. She stares at me for a minute then pulls me out of the stall. Other horses are being lugged out of their stalls and being prepared for a trailer ride. My neighbor, the advice horse, comes over and stands next to me as his groom talks to Marie.

"You okay Marie?" The groom asks.

"No, I'm worried about Zara's legs. They seem fine but you know that horses can change in less than a heartbeat." Marie rubs a hand down my leg.

The other groom ties the stallion next to me and starts checking my legs himself. He does it slowly, like a massage, so I don't complain.

"The name's Spree by the way." The stallion says to me.

"Zara."

He nods then bends down and grazes.

"Do you not like to win?" I ask.

He looks up at me. "I do sometimes, but other times I feel like other horses deserve to win more than I do. Yesterday, didn't feel like I should have won, but I did make a late comeback and finish third, so my jockey and owners were still pleased."

I nod then look at his groom, who stands up and looks at Marie.

"You're right, her legs seem fine, but I watched the video of her going mad when the gates didn't open. She was rearing and bucking and going crazy, I can see why you're worried. I would say to keep icing her and just take it easy until the Belmont."

"Thanks Henry. So is Spree not racing in the Belmont?" Marie asks.

"Naw, we decided he's good. He was a good racer while he lasted, he just doesn't seem to enjoy it anymore."

"That's too bad. You should see if Bill will take him in as a breeding stallion, he has good bloodlines and he seems to get along pretty well with Zara, if you know what I mean."

They both laugh then say good-bye as Henry walks Spree away.

Marie wraps my legs in ice again and hand grazes me.

Two days after the race, Marie loads me into the trailer and we drive away from the Preakness and to the last race. The hardest and toughest of them all - the Belmont.
Eire  
Impressive for a closer to pull it off at Pimlico, always run out of ground.
  Oct 25, 2012  •  2,244 views
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