Monday, June 08, 2009


So, I was place judging at the races The three of us judges and the timer and the stewards are all in a tower at the finish line.

I've done most jobs at the races from walking hots to this one. It's the easiest, all we have to do is decide which were the first five horses across the finish line. So we have to keep five numbers in order. The hardest part is the numbers- the three and the eight are similar, and the six and the nine- but a few episodes of Sesame Street help.

Anyhow, it was a seven race card. The second or third had been run, and so we had a half an hour to kill. There weren't any horses on the track. You know how things pop into your mind, and I had a mental picture of a horse just standing still on the finish line.

So I said to the other three, just passing the time, "I wonder if it's ever happened that a horse has partially, but not entirely, crossed the finish line. "

"Oh no, that couldn't happen."

"Yes it could, you know these crazy things. One could get half way across and shy back. Sometimes they drop dead, maybe one drops on the line. Or ties up, or just runs out of gas."

"You mean at this track?"

"No, I mean ever. I mean, there have been thousands of races, surely once..."

"No way. You're crazy."

"That's not news, but even crazy people can be right. What if one just quit, half way across?"

So there followed like ten minutes of discussion of it- our consensus was that once part had crossed, the horse was finished, based on the principle that if one horse's nose crossed the line before another's, and the second horse's nose then passed the first, that wouldn't count.

I even went up to the stewards, and asked one. He too thought my theoretical example to be farfetched- "What, are you a lawyer?" He said we were right, once any part of the horse's body crossed the horse had finished- "Even if it runs across backwards."

So on goes the next race. A fairly big field of horses. Around and around, then the finish. The first four crossed in a bunch, then the fifth a couple of lengths later. The sixth was way behind. I wrote down my win order, and looked down at the track.

I saw the sixth horse gallop up the hill, slow down, and stop. With his girth on the finish line. And the jockey got off and started to unsaddle.

My companions' attention was also on the track, and they watched it too.

We kept watching, the horse still standing there. Half way across.

The jockey unsaddled and led him away, back the way he had come. His butt never crossed.

We all have a deja vu now and then. But we don't talk about it for fifteen minutes before it happens with four witnesses, and then have it occur in front of twenty five thousand people.

I was SO creeped out.

For just a moment, I felt as though I knew what God felt like when he imagined the platypus.

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