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Tuesday, May 06, 2014


by Tricia Knoll

Jockey Ron Turcotte poses aboard Secretariat in the winner's circle at Churchill Downs after winning the 1973 Kentucky Derby.

Secretariat's jockey complains of treatment by Churchill Downs 
--Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, April 30, 2014

Twenty years ago a Chicago Marathon race director
stood behind a chair, showing us how he steered his dog team
in the Iditarod. He swerved the chair, clucked his tongue, flexed
at the knees. His move to marathon racing? There’s joy
in the way creatures run. Life overflowing. Joy
in how good people tend to good creatures.

And Turcotte. That small jockey on the big red horse,
the impossibly big-hearted horse and the 1973 Triple Crown.
When I saw Haley’s comet in 1986, I knew
it was a once in a lifetime the way my years fall.
I feared so it might go with the Triple Crown.
Never another Turcotte on a Secretariat?

Bless Seattle Slew, Affirmed, the well-tendeds who ran
for their owners, ran for their trainers, ran to remind us
of that big red horse that swept the field.
Love in the way great creatures run.
Joy in the way good people tend good creatures.

And Turcotte. Rolling now on wheels in a chair.
Churchill Downs could not save an accessible place
for him to park. His chair, his heart. His legacy
with that big red horse.

Tend to good creatures.
Joy in the way they move.

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet with a long family tradition of following the Kentucky Derby with a grandmother who once lived in Louisville. She knows there are many concerns related to horse racing -- but that never dulled her love for the best big red horse. Her chapbook Urban Wild is now available from Finishing Line Press.