Reverence -- a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.
An example of reverence -- watching Zenyatta come into the paddock on Saturday. Yeah, gentle readers, it's your bad luck that there was awesome racing on Saturday. But I'll be brief.
I wasn't around when Seabiscuit ran. I never saw Affirmed or Spectacular Bid in person. I've been lucky to see some super horses but nothing approached the scene at Santa Anita on Saturday, when Zenyatta went to the post for her fifteenth start, in search of her fifteenth win. Saturday was supposed to set the stage for a meeting between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. They were supposed to meet in April at Oaklawn for the Apple Blossom. And both prepped Saturday. Rachel ran first and along with practically every other human at Santa Anita, I was at the paddock waiting for Zenyatta when Rachel's race went off. There's been a lot of hot air from Rachel's owner, That Bastard Jess Jackson, since the Apple Blossom meeting was first mentioned as a possibility. The Mosses were all, "Yeah, that's where we're pointing Zenyatta anyway. Thanks for the five million dollar purse." But Jackson hemmed and hawed. He thought the race was too early, and said they'd go if it got pushed back a week, which would have put it on Arkansas Derby day. Maybe he thought Oaklawn wouldn't do that but seriously, why the fuck wouldn't they??? Meet-ups like this just don't happen anymore. They pushed it to the Friday before, which meant that Jackson kind of had to say Rachel would be there.
Then they needed a prep race, and Fair Grounds actually made up a race just for Rachel. So there just weren't any excuses anymore. Unfortunately for Rachel, Fair Grounds allowed other horses to enter. And one of those horses was Zardana, who's a stablemate of Zenyatta's. Zardana is also trained by John Shirreffs, the master whose Eclipse Award was stolen by Steve Asmussen (trainer, for four races, of Rachel Alexandra). See, Shirreffs doesn't have a McStable. So he didn't win all the races Asmussen won. And since the Eclipse Awards are just about quantity (specifically East Coast quantity), there was no way for Shirreffs to win.
Instead, he did something kinda cooler. He sent Zardana to the Fair Grounds and while he was saddling Zenyatta, Zardana beat Rachel Alexandra.
And then Zenyatta came out. Looking, I must say, even better than she's ever looked. And what happened to the people surrounding the paddock was something I've never experienced. There was truly reverence there, awe especially coming from the people who had never seen her in person before. People came from all over the country to see Zenyatta run. Zenyatta's a ham, and she loves her fans. A few races back when was led out into the paddock, she stopped and lifted her head and froze there, like a statue. And everybody around the paddock went "Ohhhhh..." That seemed to be the right response for her, so she's done it the same way ever since. She comes out and poses, everyone reacts, then she goes back to her business.
When she was led out onto the track, she got an enormous ovation. And when she somehow managed to win the race after having monstrous traffic trouble, every single person in every box was standing and the place went nuts.
Just like after her Breeder's Cup Classic win, the crowd became one. People came to see a champion and damn if they didn't. The Mosses and John Shirreffs were visibly thrilled and Ann Moss in particular marveled at how much fun Zenyatta has out there. And that's why they brought her back this year -- she wasn't ready to retire. According to her jockey, Mike Smith, she is even better this year.
So the crazy train surrounding Rachel Alexandra officially derailed the next day. There will be no clashing of titans in the Apple Blossom. Zenyatta's still scheduled to go but Rachel won't be. I wonder what would have happened if Zardana hadn't run in that race. Rachel was almost a dozen lengths clear of the third-place horse. Was it that she really won't be ready for the Apple Blossom, or that she got beat? I guess we'll never know. But Zenyatta carried sixteen pounds more than the horse who finished second Saturday and if she came out of the race well and prepares well, she'll go to the Apple Blossom either giving no weight, or very little weight to the competition. And then the people at Oaklawn will be able to experience that sense of reverence that we on the West Coast have been so lucky to have. Zenyatta is truly special. Enjoy her.
Something kinda ironic about Saturday was that the stars of David Milch's gambling pilot, "Luck," presented the trophy to the Mosses. Dennis Farina, Dustin Hoffman and John Ortiz were there in the paddock and in the winner's circle. They all looked kinda, well, dazed. I hope they went on a Thursday, too, so they could see how the track normally is, and not just a once-in-a-lifetime day like Saturday. I say "ironic," BTW, because Saturday was all about greatness and Milch's pilot is a much more cynical look at the sport. I hope that the actors' experience at the track on Saturday gives them insight into the magic that everyone involved in racing strives for. and I just wish that Milch's show would have more of that magic. Otherwise, it's hard to really understand why people give a shit.
Rather than ranting about this in the comments section of SF Signal, I'll pick and choose some choice bits here. You know what never happens? TeeVee and film writers talking about what books they'd like to see. But novelists, apparently, can use their deep knowledge of how TeeVee and film works to give us some pointers.
There's the requisite "Hollywood will just ruin everything anyway," which is an enticing thought given the fact that all books are better than all TeeVee and movies and no bad books have ever been published.
There was, however, one person who made sense. It wasn't Chris Roberson, a writer I like quite a bit. No, Chris Roberson decided to blather about how movies and TeeVee suck. I still like your books, Chris, but REALLY. Damn the cliches and all that. Ironically, James Wallace Harris isn't a writer at all. He's a fan. But he says that Isaac Asimov's robot novels (in particular, "Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun") would make a fantastic TeeVee series. And he's absolutely right. I have an outline for this very show, from years ago. Doesn't a series based on the robot novels feel like a good fit for SciFi? After all, it would be a detective show, so there's your engine. And it would feel familiar, thanks to "Battlestar Galactica" and "Caprica," but it would also be different enough to be its own show.
Speaking of "Caprica," the last scene in Friday's episode was fucking AWESOME. SciFi's recently announced about thirty billion reality projects but they've also made some noise about staying in business with Ron Moore. "Caprica" isn't doing great, but it seems to be gathering viewers. This is what we need, people. A quality genre show of immense intelligence that actually does well. It'd be great to see the network stop chasing the funny and start chasing the smart.
This week, I decided to see how much work I can get done. So far, I've finished the first draft of a feature, read a book and wrote up some notes for another project, started breaking a spec pilot, and wrote up most of a pitch for another pilot. And it's only Tuesday! I was also supposed to do a blog post, so mission accomplished. Oh, and if you're at all inclined, I've gotten on the Twitter. I'm hilarious.