Good morning, it’s Monday, May 3, 2021. Over the weekend, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos became the latest swing district Democrat to announce her impending retirement. Then, Texas Democrats in a district southwest of Fort Worth splintered their vote, thereby botching any chance they had of picking up a House seat in a special election.
In non-political news, a horse named Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby, a record seventh time trainer Bob Baffert has won the “Run for the Roses.” Baffert’s horse won in 2020, too, and with the same rider -- John Velazquez -- who was in the winner’s circle on Saturday. This was the fourth Derby win for Johnny V.
In a moment, I’ll have a brief word on another famous jockey who won the famed race 35 years ago today. First, I’d direct you to our front page, which aggregates, as it does each day, an array of columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors, including the following:
* * *
In Memory of “Fritz” Mondale -- a Political Giant & Loyal Friend. Les Francis shares a few stories about the man he worked for and with.
An Open Letter to Swarthmore President Valerie Smith. As an alum, Peter Berkowitz considers Smith’s comments on the Derek Chauvin verdict, including her stated support for the “frank conversations” she says are needed in providing a liberal education.
The Archaic Rule Threatening Health Care Readiness. At RealClearPolicy, Brian Balfour takes aim at certificate-of-need laws that restrict medical facilities’ expansion of equipment and services.
China/Russia Military Spending Surpasses U.S. At RealClearDefense, Sen. Jim Inhofe warns that President Biden’s budget will only put America further behind its top adversaries.
Jan. 6, Camus, and the Problem With Rebellions. Also at RCD, Bill Bray turns to the French philosopher to put the Capitol assault in perspective.
Fantasy vs. Realism in Two Climate Plans. At RealClearEnergy, Heather Reams compares Joe Biden’s proposal to halve U.S. emissions by 2030 with the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which has bipartisan sponsors in Congress.
Exposing “White Privilege” at the University of Texas-Arlington. At RealClearEducation, Tom Lindsay considers a new curriculum requirement.
What We’ve Learned From Iran’s “Saltmen” Mummies. RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy examines studies of the remains of men who worked at the Chehrabad salt mine, dating to various times between the 6th century B.C. and the 6th century A.D.
* * *
On this day 1986, race rider Bill Shoemaker steered a rangy cold named Ferdinand to victory in the Kentucky Derby. Already a Hall of Famer, “The Shoe” was 54 years old. He was an inspiration for many reasons besides his age. For one thing, he was diminutive even for a jockey. As turf writer Terry Conway noted, “At 4 feet 11 inches tall and 98 pounds, it didn’t look like Bill Shoemaker could muscle a few sacks of groceries, let alone control a head-strong thoroughbred a dozen times his weight.”
But long before the phrase “horse whisperer” entered the lexicon, Shoe had a way of gently coaxing top performance from his mounts. “Horses would run for him, and I've always wanted to know why,” Hall of Famer Eddie Arcaro once told Sports Illustrated. “Shoe got them to run without pushing them. He takes such light hold of a horse that he could probably ride with silk threads for reins.”
There was adversity, too, which is common for jockeys. Not just the injuries in frightful spills that Johnny Velazquez and almost all the top riders have experienced, but also misjudging the finish line in the Kentucky Derby. Shoemaker did this twice, if you can believe that, and when he stood up in the irons prematurely while aboard Gallant Man in 1957, it cost him and the horse the victory.
He rode competitively for the last time on Feb. 3, 1990, while aboard 7-year-old Patchy Groundfog in an afternoon turf race that Santa Anita Park had billed as “The Legend's Last Ride.” The legend and his mount were the crowd’s sentimental betting favorites that day, and even eminent race caller Trevor Denman set aside his normal impartiality and exhorted the rider with a “C’mon, Shoe!” as the horse took the lead at the top of the stretch.
As I wrote in this space a few years ago, Patchy Groundfog faded to finish fourth that day. But Bill Shoemaker was not the kind of person to just fade away. In retirement, he became a trainer, and was pursuing this vocation on April 8, 1991, when, while driving on a deserted stretch of highway he lost control of his Ford Bronco, which plunged down an embankment. The crash left Shoemaker paralyzed from the neck down.
He resumed training horses in a supervisory role less than six months later, sharing his wisdom from a wheelchair. He retired from training on Nov. 3, 1997, having won $3.7 million in earnings, and died in his sleep at home in San Marino, Calif., on Oct. 12, 2003.
Shoe left us with the memories of his many remarkable rides, his consummate professionalism, and these inspiring words: “I never gave up,” he told writer Ron Flatter. “A few times I didn’t think I was going to make it. But I never quit.”
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics