My father was a glazier for the union. A working stiff doing his best to give his family a middle class lifestyle—secretly knowing they were living way beyond his weekly paycheck. I was eleven and the oldest of five when I figured out the IOUs my mother hung with care on the family Christmas tree that year—as opposed to Santa’s tree, which was downstairs—meant things weren’t so rosy and bright after all.
But what my dad lacked in income he made up for in heart. And it’s those fond memories of my childhood and my parents’ struggle for the American dream that has me standing in front of the TV today, cheering like a mad woman for a horse named California Chrome and his Thoroughbred racing team of average Joes grasping at the trifecta of horse races—The Triple Crown.
I don’t own a horse, but I write about them and the ones who treasure their beauty and strength. I guess I’m just a sucker for a good story with a cast of characters that pull at your heartstrings. But nothing can compare to a true-life story like California Chrome’s with his flashy white blaze and chestnut-colored hide that’s been tearing up the track from The Bluegrass State of Kentucky to The Old Line State of Maryland.
A horse minus the usual glittering pedigree, middle-class folks who own him, and a trainer well past his prime make up this improbable winning team that has stolen my heart and those who can’t get enough of this Cinderella story.
We have all suffered defeat and even rejection and can find common ground with this Thoroughbred racing team affectionately dubbed Dumb Ass Partners by co-owner Perry Martin. The Thoroughbred racing world laughed them off the track when they spent a cool eight thousand for a dam named Love the Chase and bred her to sire Lucky Pulpit, which they paid a quick two thousand for. But what they got in return was a gorgeous colt named California Chrome. They believed in his bloodlines—they believed in him and a trainer who has a true appreciation for horses and a hands-on approach to training.
Whether they win or lose the Triple Crown, they have achieved something far greater. They are an example of what hard work, determination, and heart will get you in a world full of hard knocks. They have given America and the world a sweetheart racing team of underdogs that puts the world on notice: You can achieve anything you put your mind to.
It is my dad that I am reminded of today and my own struggles as we grow closer to the final jewel of the Triple Crown—the Belmont Stakes—and Father’s Day. It was my dad with his quick humor and I’ll-always-believe-in-you attitude that kept me focused on my own dream of becoming a writer.
You’re my biggest fan, Dad!
And it is because of this average Joe—and that’s really his name—and his belief that you can grasp for the stars and hold your destiny in your hands that I am the published author and educator of the written word that I am today.
Everyone’s story is different, but there’s a little California Chrome in all of us.
So let’s celebrate our individuality and the things that make us all the same—like rooting for a longshot and his band of dreamers that just might prove to be the next Triple Crown winner in over thirty years.
To the jockeys and their trusted steeds—be swift, be alert, and, above all else, be safe during the last leg of this historical American race known as the Triple Crown.