Saturday, September 11, 2010

One For America

I remember chaos. I remember the tight, drawn look on my 4th grade teacher's face as we waited for the news of whether we would be sent home early. Why? We had absolutely no clue. Normally as a kid at the age of age 10 years old, a shortened school day was music to my ears, but this was different. I could sense the fear and the tension. It didn't take much longer before we were told the buses had arrived to drive us home, and we were soon ushered out the doors.

I got home and the first thing I remember was seeing my mom sitting on her bed crying. Again, why? I had no idea. Then I looked up at the TV. Replaying on the screen was a giant plane slamming into one of two skyscrapers. The once glorious building that stood so tall was instantly cut in half, the other was half rubble. Not long after came the next plane, slamming into the second tower, doing to it what had been done to the first.

I remember seeing terrified people jumping from incredible heights to what could only be their death. I was only 10, but this was still one of the most horrible sights I can remember. Other scenes showed nothing but the dark clouds of smoke that blanketed the area like a giant dark carpet of doom. The one word I first think of when remembering it all was horrifying.

Only a few weeks after the shocking terrorist attack on the twin towers, America's Horse of the Year returned in the Breeders Cup Classic and he was seeking to do the impossible. The big handsome colt Tiznow had won racing's year end event the previous year in style, doggedly fending of Giant's Causeway, the European invader.

That year, he was again the underdog to the European raced, but middle east bred and owned, Sakhee. After being out for six months for a wrenched back, it didn't look like Tiznow would be able to withstand the full force of a fit and ready Sakhee. But this was Tiznow, the colt who, when looked in the eye on racing's biggest stage, refused to lose.

Breaking from the gate, Orientate and Albert The Great hooked up in a furious speed duel, with Tiznow not far back in third and Sakhee patiently waiting in sixth. The positions remained the same throughout most of the race, but as the field passed the half mile marker, Tiznow and Sakhee began to move.

As they moved into the stretch, the smaller quicker Sakhee slingshotted himself to a narrow lead. Tiznow was not ready to give in. The American Horse of the Year found himself in a race to the finish. By the furlong pole the two horses were locked into battle, and it was Tiznow who surged clear in the final stride.

The race still brings me to tears and the call of "Tiznow wins it for AMERICA!", rings clearly in my head even now. It was vindication in a way. Tiznow ran his heart out, symbolizing the heart and soul of every American in the process. Tiznow may only be a horse, but he should forever remain, not just an American Horse of the Year, but an American Hero. Tiznow, I salute you.


  1. Nice piece Dani. For me, "Tiznow wins it for America!" was one of the most memorable race call quotes ever ... I can't believe you were only in 4th grade. I suddenly feel very old. LOL

  2. Your commentary is eloquently stated and so poignant.

    I think we usually remember what we were doing and exactly the spot we were in when something very tragic happens. It becomes stained in our minds forever. I was fourteen-years-old when President Kennedy was assasinated, yet I remember vividly what I was doing and where I was when I first heard the news.

    When the 9/11 terroist attacks happened, my sister called me long distance and asked me if I'd heard the news. It was morning and I hadn't yet turned on the television. It was also my first day back at work since being on vacation. She told me what had happened, and at first I couldn't comprehend what she was saying; and then I turned on the television. It was such an horrific day, a living nightmare; but it was also as if suddenly everyone all over the country embraced each other in a huge national hug and we had such a keen awareness that we were Americans, hurting badly, but so deeply American. As one nation we really bonded together.

  3. Brian,

    Don't worry, I can hardly believe I was that young. It feels like it was only a couple years ago, not nearly a decade.

    Tiznow winning the race he the way he did and the final call just seemed symbolic in a way. Like we would get through this. It, to me seemed like a fist pump for our nation when he defeated Sakhee.

  4. John,

    As I said, I knew nothing except something bad was happening, until I got home. That is when I saw the magnitude of what was going on. At that age, I remember shock, and wondering why people would ever do something like that. Now that I am somewhat older I can digest it, and the word is horrific. It angers me that radicalist of a religon decided to kill thousands of people and rip apart families, for the only reason, basically, that we did not believe in their own religon.

    I'm not sure how many people made the connection of Sakhee's ownership or his breeding. BTW I have nothing against the owerners of Sahkee, it just seemed that at the time, so ironic. I love Tiznow anyways and have always found it interesting, the interworkings of the 2001 BCC. The flag bearer for the Middle East and our own champion flag bearer duking it out, with Tiznow coming out on top.

  5. Very nice post and it brings back memories.
    I hesitated about going to Belmont that day for the Breeder's Cup. I was still kind of shell-shocked about what happened weeks before.But I went anyway, I didn't want fear to get in the way of doing something I loved doing every year. I was moved by the presence of all the Military there that day, the place was filled with patriotism as well as excitement. And I became a HUGE Tiznow fan that day, for what he did and how he did it.