Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me.
- Mark Twain, 1895
You won't see too many posts here about horse racing, but as a card carrying Australian expat, I have to mention the 147th Melbourne Cup. Run at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November, cause for a public holiday in the state of Victoria, and stopping an entire nation, the Melbourne Cup is the only race I have ever bet on. For the record, at age 17 I illegally put $2 on At Talaq to win the 1986 Cup, and collected $17 for my trouble.
Here in New York, you can catch the race on the OTB channel on cable. I'll be watching, as I have every year I can recall except 1987, when I was taking an exam as the race was run. I have never forgiven Monash University for this slight.
The 4 to 1 favorite, Master O'Reilly, is chasing the rare Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double. As a sickly colt, he would not eat and was thought lost until his owners reputedly fed him yogurt. It's an irresistible story of hope and redemption.
Can Master O'Reilly fight off the likes of Purple Moon, Eskimo Queen, and Gallic? Only time and 3200 metres will tell.