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Photo Finish

The twenty contenders of the Kentucky Derby blazed around the track. Both trademark steeples of the Churchhill Downs racetrack stood distinctively behind the field of flying hooves. To the jockeys, the only sounds were the fastening drum of their heartbeats and the steady hum of their horse’s pounding feet. But to the audience, the announcer’s voice captivated their ears. All eyes followed the three leaders as their bodies tilted, completing the final turn.




“And in the lead it’s Quick To Please by a nose, followed by Dance Tune in second and Slam Dunk for third. And turning in for home, it’s…a three way tie! They’re approaching the finish in record time…100 hundred yards to go, and it’s…”




The three horses crossed the finish together, sending the cameras clicking. Then, suddenly, three shots run off and hung in the air. Above the noise of screaming onlookers, jockeys let out cries of surprise as the three leaders, five, twelve, and thirteen, collapsed across the finish line. Blood began to run into the dry sand, making it more slippery by the second. As the other horses poured in, some slipped trying to turn away or jump over. Others were already exhausted by the heat from the intense sunlight. They couldn’t muster the strength to avoid the pile of million dollar horses and joined them, falling to the ground.

Ambulances rushed on, the track security rushing in to pull jockeys from the melee. Some were placed into black body bags after their pulses were checked, and others were carried away with flashing lights and blaring sirens. All of the injured horses were sorted out by the onslaught of grooms. A fourth of the field had to be euthanized on the track. Everyone who had come to watch the 129th running of the Kentucky Derby had been ushered away in the crutch of the nation’s fear, carted away to a safe place.

A day later, no one was interested in who had won the Derby. Only five of the contenders would ever race again, so why care? The photo finish wasn’t determined. It was America’s mourning time for the jockeys and horses that they had lost.



A week later, the President made his planned address on taxes. Although nobody particularly enjoyed listening, they stood with their microphones and cameras on the scene. Taxes, taxes, taxes…and then the hands of each reporter flew up, all to ask the same question. “How did you respond to the tragedy of the Kentucky Derby, Sir, and what is your family doing to handle this personal loss?”

“I am sorrowed by last weekend’s tragic event, but I believe that our nation is recovering well from such an act of terror. My daughter has taken the loss of our racehorse, Quick To Please, to heart. My condolences go out to the other owners and trainers, as well as to the families of the jockeys who lost or are still fighting for their lives.”

Glasses were pushed up and pens flew to scribble down a record of the President’s words. Cameras clicked and lights flashed, all in the few seconds before the next wave of hands flew up. Excited voices called out, wanting to be heard and acknowledged. “Mr. President, Sir, what are you doing ot find and put away this terrorist?”

“We have moved into immediate action looking into this shooting. All of our best and brightest are working night and day to-“

A single shot rang out, silencing the President’s last words in all of it’s glory. Blood seeped along the platform, stealing away the President’s life like the dying horses (however more innocent) had gone. Once again, symbolism struck the government in the face. The streets of the nation’s capitol were filled with people running and screaming, afraid to move but afraid of staying in the same place for too long.

So maybe they figured out the numbers when the ‘best and brightest’ got around to it. Or maybe they never comprehend the connection between the deaths of horses 5, 12, and 13 and May 12, 2013.Whatever the case, they certainly didn’t figure it out soon enough. Possibly if they had bothered to determine the race’s winner they would have seen it, like how I saw the soft waters of the Atlantic on the night of May twelfth. But let me tell you, Europe is a very nice continent for those running from the law, especially those very corrupt countries.




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