The Kentucky Derby And THE BLACK STALLION
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Jockey Sonny Leon (red and white silks) on 80-1 shot Rich Strike made an awful lot of good decisions in weaving their way through the pack in the Kentucky Derby.

Compare how complicated (not to mention potentially lethal) Rich Strike’s path was compared to, say, Dave Wottle of the USA’s closing charge in 1972 Olympic 800m.

I’m reminded of the final scene (spoiler alert) in the exquisite 1979 children’s movie The Black Stallion. Coming into the final turn third in their match race at Santa Anita against the champion of East and the champion of the West, the little boy jockey on The Black sees a tiny opening on the rail, perhaps just enough for them to squeeze through to victory.

But then it dawns on the little boy jockey that, as his trainer Mickey Rooney told him, he’s just a little boy, not an expert professional jockey, while, on the other hand, The Black is a magnificent beast. So the boy swings The Black way out wide on the turn, far from trouble, and just lets him power past the other two horses.

Or at least that’s what I think happened. Despite being a kid’s movie, The Black Stallion is perhaps the peak of 1970s oblique cinematic artistry, so I’m never exactly sure what’s happening.

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