With the opening of Oaklawn Park just nine days away, it comes to mind that the best horse racing of the year may take place in the Democratic and Republican primaries. But who's the frontrunner as they slide down the backstretch and enter the final turn for home? I sure couldn't tell you. But I was so certain last August when Hillary and Mitt were putting up those big poll numbers. The truth is, that each one started with an inside trip on a speed favoring racetrack. Both shot quickly from the gate and had a big lead on the field as they headed into the first turn. Nothing or nobody was going to catch these fine tuned and well financed front runners. But wait--what's this--? It's 2008, and the Iowa winter takes its' toll on the track and turns the rail dirt heavy and soft. The inside is not the fast firm footing it was during late summer, and both juggernauts are starting to get leg weary. As the early leaders shorten their stride, a high strung 3 year old colt from Illinois lopes up to Hillary with long confident strides. Obama's pre-race stategy of being the agent of change has the young infield whipper-snappers slapping programs on their legs and screaming for their pick to take the lead. He does just that and sticks his head in front for the first time. The frenzied young-uns on the infield head for the windows to collect their bets. The swagger and overconfidence of youth won't serve them well on this day, because New Hampshire has given Hillary her second wind and now she charges back into the lead. Hillary's jockey, the wily veteran Bill, has his steed back in the race with a retooled message and a kinder, gentler persona. Separating himself from the rest of the pack is the fiery veteran campaigner, Lawyer John. But there's too much ground to make up and he'll have to settle for the show. Hillary and Obama race neck and neck for Super Duper Tuesday and it's gonna take a photo to pick the headbobbing winner. .
Back to the Republicans, it seems as if Iowa and New Hampshire have Mitt mired in the mud, with Thompson being left in the gate, and Rudy a late scratch. But on the outside you've got yourself a real horse race. The old iron horse, McCain, is using all the savvy he can muster to stave off the upset bid of the longest shot on the board, Huckabee. As McCain and Huckabee glide past the tiring early favorite, both are jockeying for position. Pundits and media type scurry around the grandstands, shaking their heads in amazement as they watch this race unfold. Huckabee uses Iowans and his everyman approach to forge to the lead. But McCain, a true American hero, has seen a lot tougher spots than this, and New Hampshire puts him on even terms with the upstart Arkansas bred. As they turn into the stretch, it's too close to call for both parties, so lets just sit back, have a corned beef, and enjoy our time at the races.