A few days ago, I praised Hillary Clinton for her decision to flee South Carolina immediately upon hearing the primary results. It was kind of a classless move, but it was also obviously a response to a recent column I wrote on concession speeches, so I thought Senator Clinton deserved a little credit for reading the Maroon.
His legacy will live on in the murky underworld of online message boards and YouTube tribute videos. Perhaps there will be a candlelight vigil or state funeral at Churchill Downs. Some attention-seeking (or just nuts) mayor will declare “Barbaro Day” in his or her city. And Barbaro’s closest relative, his as-yet-unnamed brother, will be adopted as his successor, the Eli to his Peyton.
Let them eat paste.
It’s wonderful to know that the Maroon has such clout in political and faux-sporting circles, but I must take issue with the proposed plan. Those who knew Barbaro best–his deranged fans, his caretakers, and his fellow horsey friends–won’t remember him for his Kentucky Derby victory. A 6 1/2-length margin is great–almost unprecedented–but his real legacy lies outside the arena. It was his vulnerability that made him special, his ultimate mortality that made him, well, immortal.
If he hadn’t squashed his leg like a bag of delicious Napa Valley grapes, he’d be just another horse. The point at which he made the leap from illiterate, idiot athlete to spiritual icon came at the precise moment in which he was sapped of all of his powers. His supporters could conceive of any number of glorious scenarios for his aborted career, and who’s to convince them otherwise? But it was the Preakness defeat that gave cause to those dreams, not the Derby victory.