Blinkers Off will be a little quieter than usual for the next few days. The University of Chicago Scav Hunt is this weekend. As a result of this world’s longest and most frenetic scavenger hunt, I will be away from the racetrack for the first weekend since the Hawthorne spring meet opened in February. It will be strange to be away from the track, but I wouldn’t miss the Hunt for anything.
However, I keep my fingers crossed that there will be a little something related to racing on this year’s list. Occasionally, there is some overlap between Scav Hunt related mayhem and our favourite sport. Back in 2009, the road trip sent a few of us through Kentucky and Tennessee, and we visited the graves of both Man O’ War and Isaac Murphy at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Last year’s road trip didn’t officially send us through any horse racing related destinations, but one of the more puzzle-type items read as follows:
37. Well, we would ask you for twenty grand in Greek money or for a Rhinemaiden on the Quadrangle or, for once in your life, to behave yourself, but that would pose a genuine risk, and we might regret it. Besides, what would come after Sunday? You tell me, or no point given. [3 points]
This confused much of my team, but was rather clear to me…and more than likely would be clear to you as well, since you spend at least some of your time reading about horse racing. It’s a litany of horses who have won a Triple Crown race or two over the years. I was pretty sure all the judge would have wanted for this item would be for us to answer “Silence”, as in Sunday Silence (winner of the 1989 Kentucky Derby, as well as the 1989 Preakness), when she asked us to provide this item. However, the road trip squad (which I was on) had to go through Louisville on the way home from New Orleans. Furthermore, when I mentioned the answer was silence, one of the other guys in the car mentioned that Hamlet’s last words were “the rest is silence.”
I could have far more fun with this item than just giving a simple answer.
So, I wrote a Shakespearean sonnet in the car, with as many horses who had won a Triple Crown race or two that I could possibly get into it. The final count was twenty-four, including the Sunday Silence reference in the last line. We made a detour to Churchill Downs, and I read the text in my road trip costume (something prescribed by the list to prove we were there that weekend, and not earlier) with the iconic twin spires in the background.
i’m Bounding Home as more than iron man,
but as His Eminence the Iron Liege.
on High Quest to recount that classic Chant
of Tyrant beasts on Bold, Unbridled siege.
the Real Quiet their Victory Gallop make —
an Empire Maker slays one’s Funny Cide
when in a Ruthless and an Agile way
an Easy Goer turns up bona fide
in this kings’ sport! if you’re a Royal Tourist,
no Gallant Man has ever said it better
than Charismatic Elocutionist
our Old England’s The Bard of Arts and Letters.
as ended sweet Majestic Prince’s violence:
after Sunday, yes, the rest is Silence.
Is this high art? Surely not. However, was it a lot of fun to take an item intended as a simple yet thickly veiled question and turn it into a bit of absurd performance on racing’s hallowed ground? Yes, yes it was.