McDreaming: A Gorgeous Horse, with a Marvelous (Real) Name. Horse Racing at Its Innocent Heart.
Has Always Dreaming been nicknamed, “McDreaming,” yet?
(Many of you are fans of the lovely actor, Patrick Dempsey, and his former role in the TV serial, “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dempsey’s character–a handsome hunk of Black Irish human maleness–was nicknamed, “McDreamy” almost from the minute he walked onto the soundstage. Well, of course, that’s because the writers made it so…)
Last night as I slept, the name, McDreaming, came to me several times. So often and so loudly, that finally I just had to get up and see: on PedigreeQuery? Nope. So I Googled: nowhere was the big, handsome Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming, affectionately called, McDreaming.
(I love finding words or phrases that don’t-yet exist, because then I can wordsmith them.) God and my rabid-fan brain intoned, “McDreaming” at me so often that I couldn’t sleep. So today I have the pleasure of wordsmithing, “McDreaming,” for our wonderful Kentucky Derby winner who’s so connected to both our Saratoga and NYC. I don’t know if the name will catch on, but in MY heart, at least, he’ll always be, McDreaming. <3 <– Grrrlish sigh here.
He’s handsome and fast. A muscular prize fighter of a Champion. And on The First Saturday in May, he gave his grateful owners the right to cry tears of joy.
The stuff of which dreams are made, indeed. McDreaming.
There are so many reasons to be head-over-heels, crushed-on Always Dreaming: his look–his locomotion–his backstory–his very name.
As goes the phrase, I could write a book…
And the intro to that book (or, screenplay…?) would be about the gifts of innocence and hope that such a marvelous horse–who bears such a quiet and introspective name–gives to his owners and his fans. Dare I posit, to the very sport of horse racing, itself. Let’s get to that:
First: “If you ain’t the lead dog…the view never changes.” The handsome son of Bodemeister exploded into the hearts of many new fans on May 6th, when he won the Kentucky Derby by 2 3/4 lengths in conditions that can be described only as Sloppy, to the Nth Degree. I can’t imagine even walking in such deep mud, and keeping my footing–never mind, running–keeping such a strong toehold–then, winning in such a resounding manner.
Notice, please in race photos–that, McDreaming’s legs are muddy. (They’d have to be, unless he actually floated above the surface of the track. Henceforth, Churchill Downs’ oval called, “Big Muddy.”)
His feet and ankles were muddied–but not his neck, face–or Johnny V. McDreaming and his jock came out looking as beautiful as the roses they were about to don.
A beautiful sight, that of a horse with no mud in his eye, in a sea of mud.
So we have a gorgeous horse who knows how to keep mud out of his eyes–that is, by pulling ahead, and winning a huge race in a big-ole mudbowl.
Second: But there’s so much more to this, you know. First, yes, it’s lovely that Bodemeister is McDreaming’s sire, and that Bodemeister came in second in both his Kentucky Derby and Preakness. But the part of the Derby winner’s pedigree that made me smile isn’t his sire, but his sire’s dam’s family that pricks my ears: The ‘Meister’s mare is Untouched Talent, a Storm Cat/Parade Queen baby. And that line means that…Untouched Talent has Weekend Surprise and Terlingua–two of Secretariat’s spectacular female children, themselves–extraordinary producers of winning horses.
Secretariat twice in Untouched Talent, and Seattle Slew at least once. It’s nice that Bodemeister came in second, in the Derby and Preak. But his mare brought two Triple Crown winners to the party. Whoa, Nelly.
For me, this is the thriller. When McDreaming surged for that 2 3/4 lead–he brought the authority and, I speculate–the memories in his DNA–of his T3-winning Granddaddies. (Horse racing is about nothing, if not pedigree–why else would it be so strongly hyped, sought-after and studied, if not to find ancestors who won the Triple Crown, and to make babies who carry the spirits of those creatures in their very DNA?) I don’t know if this will translate on the THIRD Saturday in May–but of course, I hope so!
But I DO believe in what I call, Spiritual DNA–so I know that beautiful McDreaming isn’t going onto that track alone on Saturday.
Third: His real, registered name is a breath of fresh air–and actually a glimpse into the very heart of horse racing, itself. And to the Truth of this sport. Here goes:
I’m a Writer–a Wordsmith. I’m an Editor. (“Shred-itor,” as often I half-joke…) As any Writer or Editor can tell you–words have power. Words have authority. Words can make or break a soul. “Thoughts are things,” said the Buddha, and he was right.
Ergo, language–the stringing-together of words–have more power than many people believe. This is why so many humans get themselves into trouble, shooting off their big mouths and not thinking before they speak. Putting words Out There, into the Universe–is a dangerous or exciting thing, depending on whether you build or destroy with those words.
So, you can imagine how insane it makes me, when I read that some fool named his beautiful, sweet horse–something like, “I Luv Beer.” Stupid. Stupid human. Stupid name. Horses are sentient beings, so I Luv Beer would know that she’d been given an idiotic name by someone who doesn’t really know or understand horses. Clearly, I Luv Beer’s owner understands only how to think like a 15-year-old who giggles at their own stupidity.
I Luv Beer is a lousy name. You’re never going to see that horse in the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Derby, or the Dubai World Cup.
But Always Dreaming? What a beautiful name! McDreaming’s registered name speaks of so much–the real guts of horse racing. The fact that, with a dream in your heart and belief in yourself and your horse, and in your team–and hard work–you can set your sights at the heights, and achieve them.
Horse racing long has been the victim of lousy marketing, and a reputation sullied by stereotypes. (I know whence I speak: I’m half Italian.)
People who know nothing of the sport–and unfortunately, that too-often includes the ranks of “generalist” reporters who have the potential to sway their audiences–when those people think about our beautiful sport, they see not the pageantry, the honor, the 500-year-old pedigrees. They see not, The Sport of Kings, or the pride that grooms take in the horses in their charge. They don’t see owners and trainers who cry when their horse colics.
No, the uneducated, rather, uninformed (both media and potential fans) have a slanted view of our sport: like the Six Blind Men and the Elephant, they see only the part that their hands can touch. Only the part that popular culture has fed to them–this is what they see as the Truth about Horse Racing.
They see a group of ne’er-do-well, half-baked gangsters, suckin’ on stogies and singing, “Fugue for Tinhorns.”
It doesn’t matter that this is a stereotype: this is what the non-racing world sees about our sport, and they continue to believe it. They continue to believe that we’re all corrupt–unprofessional–gun molls and shady ladies. They see not the Truth, because they haven’t been exposed to the beauty–or because the beauty doesn’t appear to be as interesting as the myth.
The real guts of horse racing–the reason why so many people work so many hours–pay so much money–cry so many tears of both joy and grief–is because this is the one sport on Planet Earth in which dreaming–Always Dreaming–is considered to be a virtue.
Always Dreaming’s name says so much more than that it’s a good thing to daydream. (It is, BTW.) No, Always Dreaming is the phrase that’s engraved on the souls of every single one of us who love this sport as both fan and professional.
Horses are our leaders--their innocence, power and innate kindness give us hope. Every time a horse steps onto a race track, anywhere on this orb–someone’s heart is riding with the jockey on that horse’s back. Millions of times every year–millions of human spirits are uplifted by the courage, beauty and strength of race horses, God’s most perfect creations.
Why? Because, horses give us hope.
Always Dreaming? You bet we are. If horse racing doesn’t come back to this pure place–that of a community of fans, administrators and professionals–including media personnel–if racing can’t pull back on all the fluff that surrounds the sport, all the nonsense that has nothing to do with big horses, running fast and winning–then horse racing is doomed.
But if we can remind ourselves to be Always Dreaming–to be children again, lying on our backs and blowing the fur off the dandelions in the midsummer sun–we can clear up the ridiculous myths about the sport. We can give the world a sport that is honest, innocent and joyful.
We can show the world of sports what it looks like when humans are Always Dreaming–and how that shared dream translates into a sport filled with happy, loved equine athletes, and human connections whose dreams are formed, realized and passed on to future generations.
If our world needs anything, it’s hope. Horse racing gives us that hope, for we are The People Who Are Always Dreaming.
Thank you, Always Dreaming, for reminding us of the importance of stopping all the busy-ness, and just allowing our hearts and desires to wander. Like you in your mighty Kentucky Derby victory, McDreaming–our own dreams may lead us into our own winner’s circles–and history books–as well.
Always Dreaming? You bet we are.
Thank you to:
America’s Best Racing