Saturday, June 05, 2004

Smarty's Smartin'

This is me today.

Well, good old Smarty Jones just lost the Belmont by a little bit. I don't know the technical horse-racing term for it. It wasn't a nose or a neck, from what I saw. All I know is he was winning, and we were cheering (the baby was very concerned), and then Birdstone came up hard and passed the poor kid right at the end. I thought Smarty was a shoe-in. Although that's not a horse-racing term either. ***shuffling off to google "shoe-in"*** IS a racing term, I've just discovered. Dear Word Detective says this:

"Shoo in," as it is properly spelled, was originally a racetrack term, and was (and still is) applied to a horse expected to easily win a race, and, by extension, to any contestant expected to win an easy victory. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the term in print dates back to 1928, and the original sense of the term was not as innocent as you'd think. A "shoo in" was originally a horse that was expected to win a race, not by virtue of its speed or endurance, but because the race was fixed. The sardonic "subtext" of the original usage, now lost, was that the designated horse would win even if it were so lackadaisical in its performance that it simply wandered somehow up to the finish line and had to be "shooed in" to victory.

Not to insinuate that it was fixed, of course. But Smarty was our local horse. I live not too far from his home in Philadelphia, so I and my fellow Delawareans supported Smarty in his bid. I heard two old ladies in the coffee shop today:

"I hope it isn't raining on Smarty tonight. I want him to do his best."
"He's won in the rain once before, but that doesn't mean he wants to run in the rain. It doesn't mean he likes it."

I'll bet they would've baked Smarty some cookies if he'd won. They'll probably bake him some anyway, to help him feel better. I wonder what shape? Horseshoes, maybe.

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