“Place yourself to be out of trouble, that way you’ll be able to make your move. That’s the main thing — keep the horse out of trouble, and you should have no trouble.” Ron Turcotte <last triple crown jockey>
Today we will find out if we will have the first Triple Crown winner <win the Kentucky Derby, the Pimlico Preakness in Maryland and the New York Belmont Stakes in horse racing> in over 40 years.
But it is the quote that made me think about horse racing and Life.
Keep the horse out of trouble and you should have no trouble.
Life is kind of like that.
Navigating life is as often about keeping out of the way of trouble as it is positioning yourself to win.
Actually … they are almost two sides of the same coin.
And it sounds simple.
But keeping out of the way of trouble is difficult.
For several reasons.
One is that there are a shitload of moving parts <people and things> happening in Life all around you.
Second is that every time you may zig to get around perceived trouble … trouble zags and hits you smack into the face.
Think about this.
The winner of the last Triple Crown raced maybe 20000 races … and had 17000 losses <or not wins>.
Trouble arose 17000 times or so.
<but he won 3000 times>
The winner of the last triple crown in over 35 years … and the rider of the only horse , the only non-human, selected by Sports Illustrated as one of the 50 greatest athletes of the 20th Century … now sits in a wheelchair because of a horse racing ‘trouble’ incident.
<but he won 3000 times including a triple crown>.
His thoughts on all his?
“I am just an ordinary man who was lucky enough to accomplish something.”
The guy won 3000 races.
He met trouble head on and did what he wanted to do.
That’s called Life.
As in winning in Life:
“A lot of things have to go in your favor. You have to have a good support group. You have to have talent. You have to have trust that’s earned through adversity, going through good times and bad times, but you also have to have some good bounces and things have to go your way.”
The good bounces thing is what struck me.
Even with 3000 wins, even after all the winning … he understood the value of luck, of chance, and of fate.
And that maybe you have to have a lot of your own share of all three.
He understood that even if you are the best of the best … and doing the best of the best … the universe will sometimes do what it does.
In other words.
Success is never guaranteed.
Even if you are good … really good.
Even if you train … really train.
And even if you try your hardest.
The universe will sometimes do what it does.
“And our team is mature enough to understand that, to have perspective and to feel fortunate for this opportunity.”
I think it’s a little crazy when people say they deserve a chance … or deserve an opportunity … or because they worked hard that opportunity was deserved in some way.
Opportunities always exist … but you are not guaranteed to get them.
If you get an opportunity feel fortunate <and do your best to not waste it>.
Or trying to insure success.
Or maybe it is the different paths to success.
“…. I just have to ride him accordingly. I don’t think anyone can tell a jockey what to do. I had a free hand when I was riding most of the time, but when they tie your hand and give you orders to be placed somewhere or do this or do that — ‘I want you to lay third,’ or ‘I want you to lay fourth’ — it might be 10 horses in the race, and nine of them have the same orders.”
Or … as he summarizes direction …
“We can’t all be in the same place, so when the gate opens, you’re on your own.”
So many times we say ‘this is the way to win’ … but you know what? … everyone is trying to win.
Oftentimes winning is about context and managing the moment.
Someone can tell you ‘this is the way to do it’ but … trust me … in Life you have to use free hand to win the race.
Humility … or maybe it is simply acceptance of what happens.
The year was 1965, and Turcotte, then 23, was aboard a horse named Tom Rolfe, whom he had ridden to a Preakness win after a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Turcotte made his move too early in that race and ended up losing by a neck at the line to a Florida-bred horse called Hail To All.
“It was completely my fault,” Turcotte said. “I knew the horse’s fitness and all that, and I should have waited a little bit longer, and I got the horse beat. I don’t know if I was one of the best (that year), but the best can get beat the same way.”
So he admitted … yup … admitted … he was the reason it lost.
This guy had integrity.
In a sport that has been in the past the target of shady betting schemes, fixed races and other illegal activities associated with organized crime, Turcotte <along with Darrel McHargue and British journeyman Michael Hole> was named as an “Untouchables” – three jockeys who would never be coerced into rigging races.
It was a moniker made all the more impressive when Mafia member-turned-state witness Anthony Ciulla testified in 1980 to the widespread criminal element in New York’s jockey colony and how Turcotte was an incorruptible in an easily corrupted game.
I think everything else I have written about Life and horse racing is almost irrelevant compared to that last thought.
That is Life as it should be lived.