It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. -Archie Griffen
Something that we waited 37 years for and when it finally happened, it felt like a beautiful dream. We had finally found The One. American Pharoah was now an American hero.
Well, for most of us.
One would think that after finally winning the Triple Crown, and doing so with the second fastest Belmont time in history on the Triple Crown years, would be more than enough to make people happy. It would be enough for at least one day to have everyone on the same page and finally all fans of one animal. Of course, humanity dares to disappoint.
Not five minutes after his victory in June, there it came. Something wicked and hateful: the first “He’s a good horse who won against nothing” tweet. Not far behind it, the first “He’s no Secretariat and anyone who compares the two is blind” tweet.
Of course they came; they ALWAYS come after any feat in horse racing. The endless comparing, the endless “never-being-good-enough” syndrome that so many seem to display, and the sadistic need by some to degrade an animal or to put down those that are merely celebrating a historic moment.
Let’s address the first part to start: the tweets from those who never seem to be able to give any horse the respect it deserves.
How. Dare. You.
Horses, above many athletes, deserve total respect. Not only is their job hard, but they unknowingly provide directly for three separate parties in most cases: owner, trainer, and rider. They run their heart out for that one extra placing; while it means nothing to them, for you, it may have been the difference between hitting or missing your bet. Sure, most horses will not be great, nor will they be in the same category as your Zenyattas, Wise Dans, American Pharoahs, Black Caviars, and Rachel Alexandras, just to name a few. However, that is not indicative of the level of respect a race horse deserves.
To the point: give American Pharoah credit, give the very talented animals that finished behind him credit, and BE HAPPY. Everyone worked hard to get him to the top and to keep him healthy. Don’t diminish this moment for them because you have such an unrealistically high bar set for every Grade I caliber horse that you can’t even be happy for a historic moment. Something that most people have waited for 37 years to occur just happened and the first thing you can think to say is “He beat nothing”?! I understand that shock makes some people say some weird things but it’s been a while now and it’s time for you to get passed that shock. Besides, only time will tell what this “nothing” group can do. Many are continuing on in their racing careers after this year when American Pharoah is set to retire. Be careful, you may choke on the words you’ll be forced to eat.
To the next portion of this piece: the endless anger over comparisons to Secretariat. Please stop. We get it. You don’t like that and it makes you cranky.
In all honesty, I have yet to truly see someone (not in the comments section) on a published article even remotely claim that American Pharoah has accomplished Secretariat level greatness. In fact, many people have admitted that it will be a very very VERY long time before someone even comes CLOSE to that mountain peak and even then, it’ll likely be Big Red himself reincarnated just for his own amusement and giggles.
While many were fortunate enough to see Secretariat himself race, many (like myself) were not. American Pharoah is our Secretariat. He’s the first Triple Crown winner that my generation has seen, and we’re rightfully excited about it.
Am I saying that American Pharoah is on par to Secretariat in terms of accomplishments? No.
Am I saying that I believe that American Pharoah is better? No.
Am I diminishing Secretariat’s legacy by comparing the two? NO.
On topic to the last question: if your love for Secretariat, or his legacy, diminishes in your eyes because people compare him to another horse who accomplished the same feat he did by capturing the Triple Crown, then you are not a very good fan. People compare; it’s what we do. Your love or admiration for the athlete should not fade because of comparisons. Nor do you need to be a proverbial bulldog: you do not need to defend Secretariat’s legacy. His record does that just fine on its own.
However, people who have now seen both are allowed to say that American Pharoah evokes memories of Secretariat because it likely does.
They likely remember the crush of people to see the Triple Crown winner by 31 lengths in person. They likely remember the media frenzy, the fans going crazy, and the popularity that horse racing suddenly had. Secretariat won the Triple Crown in record time for every single race, and that’s what made him so great for the public then and now. American Pharoah won the Triple Crown for the first time in 37 years and that’s what makes him so great for many of us. It’s okay to say that he reminds you of Secretariat because your own individual experiences are most important. No one can take those away from you, so don’t be shy about letting people know how you felt in both instances. They are both equally as special to the human memory.
If you don’t share that same experience, that’s also ok. Agree to disagree but do not turn it into a grammatically incorrect rant on Facebook filled with insults toward posters and the horse.
Those who choose to belittle and act like such comparisons are blasphemy need to step away from their computer and take a breather.
In short, enough with the angry rants and posts about how he’ll never be Secretariat. Anyone related to Zenyatta will never be Zenyatta, Rachel’s Valentina will never be Rachel Alexandra, and American Pharoah will never be Secretariat because he’ll always be a genuine and unique version of himself.
And because he can’t legally be registered under Secretariat to pose as a doppelganger.
Stop finding things to be offended over that were never intended to offend.
You’d be better off being “offended” over the pointless Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra vs. Ruffian debate that never seems to die or the equally pointless “Best Horse Ever” argument that seems to foul most memorial pages.
Or better yet, just stop fighting about apples and oranges all together and just be happy that you got to be a witness to a great moment. Give respect where it is due because some of you make it sound like the Triple Crown isn’t enough.