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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 life.

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.


Dave Cole
Prosperity: The Choice Is Yours
Copyright 2003

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