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The Long Shot That
Captured America's Heart
By: Dave Cole
In the 1930's the realities of the Great Depression drove deep into most men's
hearts. At the time the average American worker was earning about $500 a year.
At least those who were fortunate to find work.
Times were hard, there was little to cheer about.Adolph Hitler was in the news
and everyone knew trouble was brewing in the world.
Ten years of hardship had just passed, the hardest economic times in our
history. Americans needed something.....
something that they could relate to, something that they could find hope
in.....s omething that would give them encouragement.
Encouragement, hope, faith, that the little guy could pull out of this
depression and make a go of it, that men who were formerly down and depressed
could come from behind and make a decent life for himself and his family.
America found it's hero in a rather unique form. A horse named Seabiscuit.
He had short legs, asymmetrical knees that didn't quite straighten all the way
giving him a crouching stance and an odd, inefficient "eggbeater" gait that one
writer likened to a duck waddle.
No one ever thought Seabiscuit would amount to much,his career had been
noteworthy only in its appalling rigor.
Seabiscuit was a horse that no one really wanted.
Yet, he had something inside of him that was inherited from his grandfather, the
immortal racehorse, Man O' War. That something was a tenacity, a bull dog
determination, a spirit of winning.
With that spirit and the determination and patience of his owner, trainer and
jocky, Seabiscuit began winning.
Seabiscuit was something that folks could relate to. Something that had been
given little chance of ever succeeding, something that had a lot of problems and
adversity to overcome.....Seabiscuit was now the little guy who came from behind
and beat the odds.
Seabiscuit gave people hope. Hope that they too could come from behind and win
In 1937 Seabiscuit garnered more newspaper column than Hitler, Mussolini,
Roosevelt, Churchill, or any other public figure. He had won 10 major events,
broken 5 track records and taken in the most winnings of any race horse that
year....yet he was not named Horse of the Year.
An eastern black beauty that had won the Triple Crown named War Admiral was
instead, picked as Horse of the Year.
But, Seabsicuit was rapidly becoming the heart throb of America. His owner,
Charles Howard was a worthy salesman who knew how to "play the press."
America soon clamored for a match up.
On November 1, 1938 the two horses went head to head on a small race track that
held just 16,000 seats. By race time there were 30,000 fans in the stands and
another 10,000 in the infield. The rest of America virtually shut down to listen
to the broadcast. Even President Roosevelt delayed a press conference to listen.
It was no contest. Seabiscuit hit the finish 4 full lengths in front and had ran
the race in near world record time.
The little horse from nowhere, the little guy with the wobbly gait, the horse
nobody wanted, beat War Admiral, the big strong guy with all the right moves and
with the big money behind him.....Seabiscuit had become the long shot that
captured America's hearts.
By the end of 1938, Seabiscuit had won 33 races, set 16 track records and
equalled another. He was literally worth his weight in gold, having earned a
world record $437,730, nearly 60 times his purchase price.
With the looming war in the papers, America now had something they could relate
to, something that gave them the hope and determination they needed to
understand and know they could survive whatever would soon come and know that
they could come out of the Great Depression on top and victorious.
We all need something to believe in, we all can relate to the little guy who
comes from behind, the one who is forgotten and made fun of and who nobody
really gives a chance to make it....the long shot
that overcomes and makes good.
Prosperity: The Choice Is Yours
Copyright © 2003
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