Today was the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby. The horse favored to win, I Want Revenge, was pulled from the race due to an injury, which left the field a little more open. Dunkirk and Pioneer of the Nile were both 4:1 favorites, clearly the next best thing, but it was Mine That Bird (a 50-1 long-shot) that rocketed past the finish line first. A 50-1 long-shot, a horse that cost $9,500 instead of a million, won the Kentucky Derby!
He didn't just win it, either; he won it in style. He loped along in last place until the moment was right. As he entered the pack of horses that he had been trailing, his jockey, Calvin Borel, knew what they needed. "If you got a hole," he said, "you got a shot." And they found it. At the end of the race, the horse and his rider were nearly seven lengths out front... the largest lead in 60 years and the second biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history.
I love horses; I love the race, but Mine That Bird's victory reminded me of something else. It reminded me of some of the students I've taught. They also lope along in last place at times. But all they need is an opening. Just a sliver of light that helps them see through the din and confusion that sometimes surround them.
If they can see an opening, they have a shot.
And anyone can come from last place and still win.
Isn't that a remarkable thing?
P.S. Bet you're wondering who that lovely lady is in the kewl hat? The one with the handful of money? She was one of our guests today for our Kentucky Derby Party and just happened to pull Mine That Bird's name out of a hat.
It's only fitting that the only guest to actually wear a hat to our party won the prize money...! We'll just have to call her Lucky Betty!