The term "darkhorse" originally comes from racetrack parlance, and refers to the unknown entity, an unremarkable horse in any race who is, by the odds, least likely to win. Another old saying,"from the horse's mouth" also was coined by bookies and tipsters and racetrack gamblers. It's the promise of special knowledge, the inside info, the assurance of truth and certainty (which of course there is none of in racehorse betting.) And it meant, "THIS is the one that's gonna win for sure – I got it straight from the horse's mouth."
There was a book I read in college called "The Horse's Mouth" by the novelist Joyce Carey. A rascally old fellow named Gully Jimson has just gotten out of jail for passing bad checks, other scams and minor crimes. He is an artist who had some success in his youth but now he is old, in financial straits, and none-too-honest about the schemes he employs to remedy the situation. He is not an entirely admirable character. All too human, he makes many mistakes, but nevertheless, walks boldly into life each day. The story is full of humor, surprise and absurdity. Gully gets into many dubious misadventures, mostly because of who he is: a hopelessly unique, colorful "old coot" of a character.
The most engaging things about Gully Jimson are his relentless passion for his art and his unshakeable faith in life and in God. He has a different sort of spirituality, to say the least, but for him it's genuine. He refers to God as "The Horse," and whenever he gets a great artistic idea, an inspiration, or a revelation, he says "I got it straight from the Horse."
I loved horses as a child, in the idealistic, impractical way children do. That's how I learned about horseracing and the "darkhorse." The odds are long against a darkhorse, but once in a while, against all the odds, the darkhorse wins. Then, because of those long odds, when the darkhorse does win,
Maybe I'm the darkhorse. Or maybe the darkhorse is you. Nothing is really impossible unless you believe it is. In this life, if you believe you have a chance, and you run the best race you can, you have as much chance as anybody. In spite of the odds, in spite of the looks of things, you could win.
This year, May 4th, 2019, a darkhorse named Country House won the prestigious, world-known Kentucky Derby. He was such a longshot that all bets on him paid off at 65 to 1.
Seabiscuit was not an impressive looking horse and was considered to be quite lazy, preferring eating and sleeping to exercise. The horse had been written off by most of the racing industry after losing his first 17 races, however, he eventually became one of the greatest Thoroughbred champions of all time. The grandson of Man o' War, Seabiscuit raised the hopes and spirits of a beleaguered nation during the Great Depression with a series of unlikely victories. Nov.1st, 2018 marks the 80th Anniversary of his legendary win in a match race against Triple Crown winner War Admiral at Pimlico in 1938. The race drew 40,000 spectators, an enormous crowd in those days, and was broadcast by radio to President Franklin Roosevelt and 40 million other listeners across the country. Considered a West Coast underdog, Seabiscuit inspired America with his awe-inspiring win against all odds, but what made this crooked legged, supposed lazy horse a champion? The unanimous answer of his trainers, jockey, owner, handlers, and millions fo devoted fans, including myself:
The quintessential darkhorse was Seabiscuit, who became the top money winning racehorse in the 1940s when the world was at war and life was not hopeful or happy for millions of Americans. Seabiscuit's aobsurdly unlikely catapult into fame and legend, lifted the hearts of a nation. The book, Seabiscuit, An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand is a beautiful and gripping personal biography of his life. A film was also made from the book, but to lift your heart, your soul, and your faith, Don't see the movie, read the book. Also check out the program video: PBS "American Experience: Seabiscuit" or just Google Seabiscuit.
The bloodlines of Seabiscuit, grandson of Man o'War and 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral, can be traced to the Goldophin Arabian, who was the origin and progenitor of the Thoroughbred breed. You can read about this amazing horse in the book: King of the Wiind, here,