| It's very seldom we root against horses.
Horses are pretty. Horses are nice. We'd like to believe if there's such a thing as reincarnation, we might land in some meadow someplace, getting our fill of oats and hay and having our pick of the Angelina Jolies and Heather Grahams of the equine world. But come Saturday afternoon's Kentucky Derby, we're going to be rooting so hard against Bellamy Road, satellites will be able to hear our shrill cries from space.
Now, it's not that Bellamy Road personally did something terrible to us, like nip our tuckuses in a stable or force us to watch Two And A Half Men. Trainer Nick Zito is by all accounts a pretty decent guy who puts us in the mind of Garry Marshall in a tweed jacket. We couldn't pick jockey Javier Castellano out of a dwarfish lineup. And frankly, we're not sure if the horse is the pretty brown one just over there, or if he's the one who just took a dump on our foot. But we know the owner.
Oh, we know the owner.
Bellamy Road's owner is George Steinbrenner. (Insert your own "When Will He Fire The Horse" joke here.)
If it weren't for the stank of Stein all over this one, it might be a nice story. Bellamy Road wasn't a heralded horse; the Yankee owner purchased him for "just" $87,000 as an unraced two-year-old, a pittance in the racing game. He's come out of relative obscurity to become a pretty heavy Kentucky Derby favorite (his most recent odds place him at a whopping 3-1). He absolutely trounced a pretty good field that consisted of his most dangerous Derby rivals at the Wood Memorial a couple weeks back, winning by an astounding 17.5 lengths. And he's purty.
Heck, we don't really even care if Steinbrenner wins the Run for the Roses once in his lifetime. Sure, he's a miserable curmudgeon, a fiscal bully who's done everything he can to ruin baseball. Sure, he hired a private investigator to stalk Dave Winfield, and then served a season-long ban from active participation in owning the Yankees. Sure, he made the Yankees a laughing stock through most of the '80s and early '90s. But we don't care that much about horse racing.
No, the reason we'll be rooting so hard against Bellamy Road is that we've watched Mariano Rivera blow a few games over the years. That's usually fun enough, seeing the Yankees go down in fiery wreckage. But when a baseball TV director eventually gets around to the inevitable Steinbrenner reaction shot---a slo-mo replay of Big Stein the moment the Yanks lose---there is simply nothing sweeter. Steinbrenner's face contorts like that guy in the black-and-white footage who gets a cannonball shot in his gut. He winces and tries to look away, but can't. He invariably curses, and spittle flies like a Luis Gonzalez blooper. With a different camera angle, you'd almost certainly be able to see him dialing GM Brian Cashman on speakerphone.
NBC is sure to have about three gajillion cameras trained on Steinbrenner this Saturday. So no, we don't bear Bellamy Road any particular ill will. We just want to see that reaction shot, that awful, hilarious moment when Steinbrenner realizes he can't buy everything the world has to offer.