By Glenda Price
A New Mexico owned and trained horse won the Kentucky Derby last Saturday.
In the midst of torrents of depressing news cascading onto us daily — even hourly — a little-known horse and his connections proved once again that in the United States of America the regular folks can win.
Also on that day, the lady spectators with their outlandish, unique, fun choices in the “Parade of Hats” gave the “parade of horses” exuberant, joyful competition. One fellow claimed that just walking among them he was bashed by brims several times. He wasn’t complaining, though.
As I watched the “hat parade” I thought about the hats I’d worn in my life. When I was a child (the 1940s and 1950s) parents lived in terror of polio. Children were forced to drink, eat, rub on, or wear all kinds of things their parents hoped desperately would keep them polio-free.
I hated every hat my mom forced me to wear, beginning with an old-fashioned bonnet she made, complete with removable little wooden slats to hold the sides so they extended three inches past my face. The slats could be removed for laundering, but I managed to sorta lose them at every opportunity.
The 3-year old bay gelding named Mine That Bird won by a dramatic 6-plus lengths. He is owned by Double Eagle Ranch (Mark Allen) and Buena Suerte Equine (veterinarian Dr. Leonard Blach) near Roswell.
Comments were made, before the race, regarding the “cowboy hat wearing contingent” around Mine That Bird’s stall. After the race, not a word was heard about the black Western hat the winner’s trainer, Bennie “Chip” Woolley wore.
The next hat I remember my mom forcing me to wear was a huge Mexican sombrero. By then I was a 10-year-old, painfully aware of what kind of figure I was cutting horseback wearing that dreadful hat. I managed to lose it many times, always “out in the pasture somewhere.”
Mine That Bird was Canada’s champion 2-year old male race horse last year. Woolley said, “Thank God for jockey Calvin Borel. He’s patient. We were tickled to get him.”
My mom, as I look back now, also was patient (more than I deserved) because she was convinced that something unknown outdoors in the summertime was menacing her children.
Jonas Salk solved my hat problem. He was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents who came to the United States in search of a new life, and he was the first member of his family to attend college. His polio vaccine became available in 1955.
I no longer was forced to wear ugly head covers. I smiled when jockey Calvin Borel, laughing, tipped his helmet to the fans as he rode to the winner’s circle.
Although winning a horse race doesn’t shake the world like creating polio vaccine it reminds us, once again, not to be afraid of having fun and to believe in the power of our dreams.
Jonas Salk said:
“Hope lies in dreams
and in the courage
of those who dare to make
dreams a reality.”
Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at: