What are my strongest memories of the 1998 family vacation to Kentucky?
Hmm? A hotel room that looks like a tepee? An insanely hot and noisy boat trip? A whiny daughter? An orphaned puppy? And I never even wrote about the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory.
I remember best the walk to the Laundromat two blocks away from our hotel in Winchester where I sat watching the clothes spin while Himey and the kids swam in the outside pool as storm clouds brewed. Back in the room, as everyone else crawled into bed for the night, I found a mesmerizing show on PBS. Himey mocked me, but I just had to watch it for the entire two hours. “I’m not insane, I’m just plane crazy.” It was about some guy building a light-weight airplane from scratch. I don’t know why, but I had to see it through to the end.
The next day we went to Lexington’s Horse Park.
Why is it that so many girls, when they hit about eight or nine years old, fall madly in love with everything horse. By the time they reach their mid to late teens that infatuation has waned, often times giving way to boys. But for that five to seven year stretch, they drive everyone around them nuts by talking, reading, sleeping nothing but horses.
I was no different. Pat and I would ride our imaginary horses everywhere we went. Mine was a dull brown quarter horse mare named Patches, but in the spring, when the Triple Crown approached, I trained my thoroughbred, Eagle River.
We knew all the horses who had won the Kentucky Derby and every year we yearned for another Triple Crown winner. 1948’s Citation had been way, way before our time. When Secretariat roared into the scene we were ecstatic. Who would be the next horse to defeat his Triple Crown record?
Two years later, in 1975, Foolish Pleasure won the Derby, but he wasn’t the only horse making headlines. A large filly had impressively won the ten races she had entered. She hadn’t run in any of the Triple Crown races; it’s never been common practice for the females to race their male counterparts in the big races, though several fillies have won these races against the boys.
Ruffian was as tall as any of the young studs and was dark brown, nearly black, in color. She was entered in a match race against Foolish Pleasure in July of ’75.
I was an emotional thirteen-year-old that summer. I cried the entire day after that match race. Guess things don’t change that much though, because I got pretty emotional when I picked up the book of Ruffian’s life at The Kentucky Horse Park all those many years later.
I regret a lot of stupid things in my life. And to this day I regret not buying that book. I need to go now and check out Amazon.com.