by Timothy Wickes
I love to read Bill Finley. He mixes the perfect blend of fan fervor with insight and empathy. He manages to combine a certain reverence for the sport and its athletes with that necessary gift of calling a shovel a shovel.
I love to read Bill Finley but … That Sunday piece anointing Arrogate at the direct expense of American Pharoah made me think Mr. Finley had fallen down the rabbit hole of front-runnerism in the face of history. What Arrogate did Saturday was awe-inspiring, no mistake about it. Lousy break, awkward footing, and no place to go are high hurdles to be sure but like Secretariat in his Preakness and Slew in his Derby, not high enough. The great ones overcome. Most of the time. Angle Light and Onion weren't fit to carry Secretariat's Victory Plates let alone be his conquerors. Citation got beat by a nag named Saggy. And Jiminy Crickets (!), the reason “Upset” exists in our vernacular is because Upset the horse whipped Man O' War. So let's not hold Keen-freaking-Ice up as the pudding's proof; he's just history repeating itself.
American Pharoah won the triple crown. THE TRIPLE CROWN. First time in 37 years. Most of Mozart's lifetime. One year less than the time between Phillies' World Series parades. The first in the full era of Lasix. What once seemed to have become the impossible dream, Pharoah returned to reality.
Let us revel in the greatness of Arrogate. Let's slap Baffert on the back at his good fortune at having another Hall of Famer and his perfect management of those stars in our sky. But let's never do it at the expense of American Pharoah. He reversed history, overcame stigma, and gave us back the Triple Crown. He was The Man. Now Arrogate is The Man. Love them both.