Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Remind you of anybody?
HISTORY. THE USELESS NECESSITY. Couple points. One serious, the other not so.
ESPN has a series of sports documentaries that run at odd hours but are also available on demand. Whirlaway is one of these. Definitely worth seeing. As I told my wife (who loves horses but shies from horse races and horse movies because they usually end sadly), Whirlaway lived to be fifteen and is a grand story of animal personality. His early trainers called him Whirlie and said he craved attention. As a racehorse, he was, uh, difficult. He was a kind of reluctant Secretariat, a superhorse who just didn't like to be in the middle of a bunch of other running horses. He was a three-year-old in 1941 -- a very traumatic year in the U.S. -- and the oddsmakers had a hell of a time with him.
Everyone knew he was blindingly fast. Problem was, he preferred to run well away from the other horses. As a two year old and early in his three year old season, he kept veering wide, committing himself to running much longer distances than other horses to reach the finish line. He still won. But he lost his last two races before the Kentucky Derby because his jockey was a talented youngster who, according to the ESPN film, Whirlaway played like a veteran against a gullible rookie. So the owner flexed his muscles and brought in the top training and jockey talent available, who were collectively able to trick Whirlaway into running with the (ugh) other horses. He lagged then made his trademark rush to the finish. His Derby record stood for 32 years until it was broken in 1973 by guess who. Then came the Preakness. Whirlaway hit the back straight ten lengths behind the last horse in the pack. He won by six lengths going away. At the Belmont, only three horses entered against him. The jockeys conspired to slow the race down, given that Whirlaway always wanted to loaf behind the pack, to preserve their strength for the final stretch. Jockey Eddy Arcaro saw through it, took the lead and ran away with it. Again, sound familiar?
I don't know about you, but I find his tale entrancing. A goofy superhorse.
Unlike Secretariat he ran for another year after his Triple Crown win, and in 1942 he was an inspiration to U.S. troops overseas who could listen on the radio and hear the change in the announcer's voice when he intoned, "And here comes Whirlaway!" He came to be known as Mr. Longtail because his owner didn't believe in trimming horsetails at all, convinced that other horses didn't like those final feathers tickling their noses as they attempted the chase.
Now for the not so serious part. Hollywood loves repeating past successes. Sea Biscuit and Secretariat have earned a ton of money, but you just can't do Sea Biscuit 2 or Son of Secretariat. A Whirlaway movie is the obvious answer. Too bad nobody thought of it in time to boost Obama's reelection chances. Whirlaway's owner, a woman-loving CEO (not THAT way: he manufactured the best baking powder in the land) named Warren Wright, wore pincenez a la FDR and could be played by Edward Herrmann. The brawling trainer could be played by a bloated boozed up Alec Baldwin (if he could act against type for just one movie), and Eddy Arcaro by Sean Penn. Mark Wahlberg, or some other lefty Hollywood dwarf. Tom Cruise would be best, but we understand he still maintains he's tall. And maybe the talented young jockey who couldn't quite dominate Mr. Longtail might be played by Lance Bass or Neil Harris or Daniel Radcliffe. The movie could be a kind of "Occupy the Great Depression" or "Forward WWII with the 99 Percent" kind of thing, with a bit of contemporary flounce arising from the longtail meme.
Alternatively, maybe you've noticed the Whirlaway story is short on female characters. Maybe Hollywood (and only Hollywood) would see the box office potential of an all-gay approach, with David Hyde-Pierce as the pincenez-ed owner, Harvey Fierstein as the ball-busting trainer, and Clay Aiken as Eddy Arcaro. With Whirlaway (Melissa Etheridge) just killer with that silky tail whooshing around that ample ass after the run for the roses...
Whirlaway couldn't say it better. Fling those tail feathers you beast.
Sorry. I warned you I was grumpy.
But it's still a great story. And it would make a great movie. Even if Whirlaway wasn't a Lesbian but the stud who saved French thoroughbred stock after the war. Details. They can be adjusted. As we've seen.
Hope I haven't ruined it for you.
P.S. On the other hand, what does it take to be a champion racehorse siring other champion racehorses? As it happens, there's an actual intelligent essay on the subject from Bill Whittle. But forget that. Who needs intelligent essays? I'm thinking, contrary to what I said above, Whirlaway could have and would have said it better. Have you ever thought about being being retired "to stud"? Think about it. You'd have to have a penchant, a bent of some sort. Probably not gay. Or beta male. Or even metrosexual. You'd probably have to be a f***ing rock star.
Like Secretariat. But unlike Secretariat, Whirlaway would wear a funny hat. Maybe like this one.
Sad really. Sappho always loses when it comes to the super alphas, funny hats or not. So sad. Why their divorce rate is 150 percent higher than, uh, the gay divorce rate. Which is 50 percent higher than... oh, you don't want to hear this.
And neither do I. Some things aren't gay things but alpha things. Why they're so bitter.