Thursday, May 22, 2008

Question Of The Millennium: Horse Racing Edition

Why does the viewing public--not the betting public--universally support the favorite in horse racing, at least at the Preakness and Belmont? This, I'm pretty sure, makes horse racing unique.

As Big Brown prepares (or whatever) for his Triple Crown-completing race at the Belmont in a few weeks, everyone I've asked seems to think it would be cool if he made history. But why?

The most common answer I receive has something to do with witnessing greatness. But that doesn't add up. The Patriots had a shot at greatness and yet the vast majority of non-Pats fans were pulling hard for the Giants to take them down in the Super Bowl. The Yankees--just weeks after 9/11--were on the verge of winning their fifth World Series in six years and I was loudly rooting for the Diamondbacks. Duke basketball, circa 1993: I hated everything about them. Notre Dame, every year vs. Navy: Let's Go Middies!

Look at the NCAA tournament. What if it wasn't a 64-team field, and just a 16-team battle of major-conference heavyweights? Sure, we'd still watch but it wouldn't be the event it is now. And why? Because we wouldn't get to cheer on Valpo and Gonzaga and George Mason (i.e., the underdog).

America loves rooting for David. Just not in horse racing.

Which is why I'm hoping that Japanese horse can be my Bryce Drew.

-Brad Spieser (