Guest Author - Debora Dyess
We all have our favorite tongue twisters, but for Larry Collmus, his tongue twisting moment came on the job, announcing a horse race from Mammoth Park, New Jersey. Larry kept his cool and became a legend of sorts in the sporting world. After all, how many of us could pull off announcing a race between horses named ¡°My wife knows everything¡± and ¡°The wife doesn¡¯t know¡±? This talented talker pulled it off without a tremor.
When ¡°My wife knows everything¡± (trained by a woman) faced off against ¡°The wife doesn¡¯t know¡± (trained by a man) the clash of the genders was on. Race announcers are used to calling as many as twelve races daily, mentally discarding the names from one as they move on to the next. But when Larry Collmus looked at the list of horses/jockeys for the upcoming race last Sunday he did a double-take. His 25 years of experience calling the sport led him to one thought ¨C ¡°Don¡¯t mess this up.¡±
¡°What are the odds of something like that happening?¡± Collmus asked on The Early Show Thursday morning. ¡°There are 35 thousand horses bred in a year all over the United States. Those two horses with those names end up at the same track, the same day, the same race and they finish first and second. It¡¯s just insane.¡±
Horse racing has been filled with fun names. Dancer¡¯s Image, Native Dancer and Northern Dancer were light-hoofed, if we judge by their names. Some names make you wonder. Was Bull Lea a bully? Seattle Stew and Seabisquit sound tasty ¨C were their owners hungry? Did War Admiral and Man O¡¯ War ever long to battled it out. But none of those names got the kind of attention received by the two winners of Sunday¡¯s race in New Jersey.
It¡¯s not just strange names that pop up in this sport. Other oddities have haunted the history of horse racing since it first reared its head in Egypt around 1500 BC.
Just a few:
¡ñ The first public track wasn¡¯t built until 1174 in London.
¡ñ All modern Thoroughbred racehorses come from one of three stallions imported to England in the 1800s: Godolphin Barb, Byerly Turk or Darley Arabian.
¡ñ When his owners decided to enter Moifaa in the Grand National Steeplechase (a pretty big deal), he had to be shipped from Australia to England. When the ship he was aboard wrecked, the horse swam to a nearby island, where he was found and returned to his owners by local fishermen. He made it to the big race and, you guessed it, won.
¡ñ1945 gave horse racing its record for ¡®slowest winner¡¯. Never Mind II completed a two-mile steeplechase in a yawn-able 11 minutes, 28 seconds instead of the expected four minutes. All the other entries had fallen or been disqualified.
¡ñ A retired plow horse named Rubio won the 1908 Grand National Steeplechase.
¡ñ The 1951 Grand National Steeplechase winner, Nickel Coin, was fed a training diet of duck eggs and beer.
While nothing quite so dramatic happened Sunday, it was an eye-opener. Collmus says he has called a lot of races, many more important than the one that¡¯s getting so much attention. ¡°This was just your average everyday race,¡± he told Early Show anchors, ¡°but it¡¯s drawn a lot more attention than the others have.¡±
At the race¡¯s end, Collmus informing his amused audience that ¡°¡¯My wife knows everything¡¯ more than ¡®The wife doesn¡¯t know¡¯, and added a relieved ¡®whew!¡¯