Way back in 1979, I eagerly looked forward to my high school’s homecoming dance. I was absolutely positively sure that this boy I adored, ‘Dwight’, was going to ask me to the dance. Well, ‘Dwight’ asked ‘Hillary’ to the dance. So instead I eagerly looked forward to my Homecoming Emergency Back-Up Plan which consisted of consuming a bag of Doritos, a pint of ice cream, and watching The Love Boat, all the while feeling sorry for myself and seething over the imagery of ‘Dwight’ dancing with ‘Hillary’ - secretly hoping that ‘Hillary’ would break her ankle or upchuck all over ‘Dwight’.
As it turns out, I didn’t even get to revel in the glories of my Homecoming Emergency Back-Up Plan because I got horrifically sick with the flu that weekend. Doritos and ‘Dwight’ never crossed my mind; I’m pretty sure that my fever-ravaged body only demanded some sort of relief, like death.
Anyway, there is a point: You can circle a date on a calendar for some greatly anticipated event but sometimes unforeseen circumstances beyond your control can muck it all up and the much ballyhooed said event turns into a big bowl of nothingness.
Horse racing fans have made it abundantly clear they have a burning desire to see 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra take on the undefeated Zenyatta. Or Champion Older Mare / 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Zenyatta take on that upstart punk Rachel Alexandra, depending on your point of view. Regardless, Mr. Oaklawn, Charles Cella, in a humongous humanitarian effort to make this race possible, whipped out a big fat purse and circled a new date on the calendar for the Apple Blossom Invitational Handicap (gr. 1).
So now there’s a big bowl of great anticipation and excitement along with copious amounts of skepticism, peppered with hopeful optimism that these two wonderfully talented fillies will race against each other on April 9th. And as our resident American-in-Paris trainer Ms. Rarick so astutely reminds us that “plans can change in an instant with one bad work or a little heat in a joint,” to which, I would assume, she would be referring to the horses and not Steve Asmussen.
Neither Rachel Alexandra nor Zenyatta have yet to race this year, both being targeted to race on March 13th. Is everybody all that hopped up in the excitement and big bowl of possibilities that they’re ready to take an extra day off work and pour into some little burg in the Ozarks or their local OTB? Okay, maybe not John … not surprised there.
For many, the “hot spot” is now Hot Springs, Arkansas, in early April. And, if all goes well and Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta remain healthy and happy (read: come out of their respective prep races well and have good workouts and don’t have any ‘hiccups’), this really could be a big bowl full of something.