Jim Gath: All. By. Himself. (Secretariat)

sec belmont

Jim Gath:

Every year on this date, I post this:

A POEM FOR PENNY……

Cold March morning.
Early, dark & damp.
Welcome to the world, little red-haired boy.
He’s awfully pretty, that’s for sure. But can that little boy run?
Then a whisper came on the wind:“Like nothing anybody’s ever seen before. Or will ever see again.”

The boy grew big & he grew strong.
And his friends all called him Red.
Head held high.
Quick as a minute.
And the little boy knew. Knew it deep down in his bones,
“Mama, I’m gonna be a king one day, I’ll be the best that’s ever been!”

One win. Two wins. Three wins. Four.
The dry leaves blew.
And the snows piled high.
And finally the early buds of spring arrived,
To sing their eternal song.
Twin Spires.
Sunny Saturday – the first one in the month of May.
“See y’all … gotta go pick some roses,” he said. His record still stands today.

Baltimore next.
Sham was the first course.
And Black-Eyed Susans were his dinner.
He just laughed & looked her in the eye. “Just like breakin’ sticks, dear Mama. These hooves of mine can fly.”

Three weeks. A long three weeks.
The cover of Time & more.
We were all looking for a hero.
To erase the bitter taste of crooks,
And the disgusting taste of war.
But really — could it be?
Could it really, really be?
Mile & a half.
A long, long way.
The graveyard of many dreams.
Backstretch, neck & neck.
“He has a head in front….!”
And then.
And then, dear friends,
It happened.
It happened right then & right there.
The world stopped its spinning. I swear it stopped clean in its tracks.
All except for the mighty red king
Who spread his wings on the turn
And he seemed to take to the sky,
Like Pegasus on the wind.

As he left all the mortals behind,
He said, “Ronnie, just sit back — just sit back,
Old friend,
Just sit on my withers & grin.”

All by himself.
All.
By.
Himself.
Faster.
And faster.
And faster still.
Those who bore witness were carried along,
Were carried along by the king.
Men became boys & women, girls,
And tears began to stream.
And the only sound that filled the air
Was a perfect primal scream.

And then that little boy who’d grown
To do what none other ever did,
Whispered into a mother’s loving ear,
“Remember that cold March morning, dear Mama?
“Remember what you heard
“On the wind?
“That was my spirit you heard that morning, sweet Mama.
“Right there in that foaling shed:

“‘Like nothing anybody’s ever seen before,
Or will ever see again.’


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