First Saturday in May, a charge fills the air,
In Kentucky they gather, a most splendid affair.
The Run for the Roses, mere hours away,
As twenty colts vie to be champion this day.
Some colts seem anxious, aware of the task,
Some balk and some bray, while some seem to bask.
But asleep in his paddock, a champion sublime,
The unconcerned Barbaro, enjoys some peacetime.
As post time draws near, and the horses are saddled,
The once sleeping Barbaro, appears to be rattled.
He starts to act up, his groom works to console,
In a moment the horse is brought under control.
The Post Parade finished, they load at the gate,
The unbeaten Barbaro wears number eight.
With seven to left, and eleven to right,
The start gates crash open, twenty youngsters take flight.
The front stretch is blazed in the blink of an eye,
One-hundred thousand faithful watch them rush by.
The field rounds the turn, down the backstretch they bound,
Halfway to the roses, halfway to the Crown!
Five furlongs cleared, and the noise starts to churn,
Moving faster and faster into the far turn.
The crowd starts to rise like a wave on the sea,
Which colt will move up, which one will it be?
Around the last turn and they charge into sight,
One horse pulls ahead, and seems up to the fight.
A thundering bay is now leading the field,
Digging in like a steam shovel, a champion revealed!
His rider has no need to go to the whip,
This magical colt has run his perfect trip.
The others are fading, as if they all know,
Today there's no way they can catch Barbaro!
The bay locomotive explodes to the line,
The next best has slipped seven full lengths behind!
A deafening roar now erupts from the fans,
Who all sense the magic they've watched from the stands.
A Derby performance unseen sixty years,
Has rekindled dreams that bring many to tears.
Twenty-eight years since the crown has been worn,
Twenty-eight years of dreams tattered and torn.
Nineteen brave contenders have given their all,
And nineteen contenders have taken a fall,
But now there is one for whom destiny waits,
In a blanket of roses, it's Barbaro the Great!
For weeks people speak of him breaking the drought,
His romp to the roses leaves little to doubt.
The shadow of Slew, of Big Red and Affirmed,
Will finally give way to perfection confirmed.
The Pimilico track is awash in the glow,
In the paddock sits larger-than-life Barbaro.
The undercard races tick down like a clock,
As the Preakness approaches the faithful take stock.
He's led from the paddock and joins the parade,
As thousands anticipate history made.
The gates are all loaded and all that remains,
A mile and three sixteenths, and a seventh field tamed.
With millions now watching, a cruel twist of fate,
A single bay colt breaks alone from the gate.
An audible gasp echoes over the track,
As his rider fights hard just to hold the horse back.
To the amazement of all, the fortunes have changed,
For the great Champion Barbaro, and his fate prearranged.
He's led back around, and again loads the gate,
Can this champion regroup from a tragic mistake?
The gates are flung opened, they bolt down the track,
Barbaro breaks cleanly, and he's running mid-pack!
There's hope after all for this champion renowned,
To reel them all in before shutting them down!
But another groan rings out, with cries of despair,
Barbaro has pulled up, and dread fills the air.
With his right hind leg shattered, he struggles to run,
The pack draws away quickly, the dream is undone.
Six races finished, and six races won,
His only defeat, in a race never run.
But now a new challenge, a new field of strife,
Confronts this bold champion: a race for his life.
With the prayers of the faithful, and the odds stacked against,
His crestfallen owners spare no expense.
For his chance to survive this disastrous blow,
The New Bolton doctors do all that they know.
For eight months he battles through every travail,
As millions hold hope that he'll somehow prevail.
This horse with no rival upon the racetrack,
Continues to carry such hope on his back!
But every great champion faces the day,
When no more contenders stand in their way.
When no more mountains, exist for to move,
When finally, at last, there is nothing to prove.
With all of his races on earth finally done,
This bold, gallant hero continues to run.
With Big Red, Slew and Affirmed by his side,
His legacy: Hope! Barbaro did provide.
by Derek Granger 1/30/07