We hold soft spots in our hearts for long shots

By Baxter Black: PNT columnist

I have been to the Kentucky Derby. That was years ago. Alysheba won.
I read the book Sea Biscuit. I’ve been to several racetracks and bet on many a horse. But, I usually place the safe bet — $2 on the favorite.
If I had attended the 2005 Kentucky Derby I suspect I would have bet $2 to win on Bellamy Road, the 5-2 favorite; i.e., bet $2 win $5. I might have put a sympathy vote on Bandini who was trained by a University of Arizona trainer. But … would I have put down $2 on a 50-1 longshot named Giacomo? Not unless his groom had kidnapped my blue heeler and threatened to breed her to a Pekingese!
But would I have cheered Giacomo down the home stretch? Would I have shredded my program in the excitement? Would I have felt that primal, goose-bumpy surge well up from deep inside as he crossed the finish line? Would I have experienced innocent, emotional, unprotected, unexpected joy for his success?
“Unbelievable,” I would repeat, over and over, as they gave ol’ FIFTY to ONE the roses. And I’m just an innocent bystander!
The long shot wins. It’s the theme of countless books and movies, all of which I like, even if they are predictable.
We all have our own personal moments of shared accomplishment too, small in the grand scale but still heart-squeezing — the little leaguer who’s gone 0 for 13 in 10 games and finally gets a hit, the spontaneous crowd response to the raising of our flag, or the young person we love walking down the aisle at church accepting Christ or getting married.
So when Giacomo, the long shot, the written off, the ignored, thundered out of the shadows and beat the heavyweights at their own game, every one of us also-rans perked up our ears, gave a thumbs up and said, “Alright!”
We walked ’round a little straighter, heads a little higher, feelin’ a little more confident. It was sweet and lasted for a while. Then came the next race where Giacomo was no longer the underdog, so this time we bet on him. But secretly we held a soft spot in our hearts for the long shot.

Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: