I was a typical horse-crazy teenager once upon a time. When Affirmed and Alydar battled it out over the course of the three Triple Crown races and Affirmed came out victorious, I was twelve years old. The Triple Crown and the tennis Grand Slam events were probably the most closely watched sporting contests in our house.
Now my kids have developed a keen interest in racing of all kinds -- mostly for the opportunity to have a rooting interest in one competitor, and for Archer, the chance to keep track of the running order at all times. While the race is being run, there's much shouting, cheering, and as Archer puts it, "pretending to be a horse race."
For this year's Belmont shocker, Cady Gray picked number 6 to be her horse -- and then ended up with the longshot winner. Archer picked number 3, but was happy to be the track announcer for Cady Gray's win. Noel picked Denis of Cork and got the place. I went with the sure thing, Big Brown, and like everyone else, I was stunned at the result.
Given Archer's fascination with the numerical aspects of all kinds of sports, we experimented with watching the Indy 500 and the French Open this year. Sports are governed by sequence -- cause and effect, periods of play, batting order, game-set-match -- and Archer bombards us with questions until he gets that sequence straight in his head. Although horseracing affords him an opportunity to watch the numbers of the competitors change order, it doesn't have the intricate scores-within-scores-within-scores of tennis, or the complex pitch count and base progression of baseball. Looking through his eyes, I can see the appeal of both the simple sport of racing and the intricate path to victory involved in something like tennis. In recounting when things happens and how a certain outcome was reached, Archer is "storytelling" in his own way, and it's clear that it gives him great satisfaction.