ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Love Those Longshots!!
by Brian North
5/11/05

Pirate Radio 1250 aired the 131st Kentucky Derby, and the second longest shot in the race's history won the event. Giacomo went off at 50-1 odds, and anyone who made a two-dollar bet went off with $102. It may not be the lottery, but if you were smart enough or lucky enough to pick Giacomo, you felt like you were on top of the world.

The only other time a horse had a bigger return for winning the Kentucky Derby was 1913 when Donerail paid $184.90 for his upset win. Of course it wasn't called an upset, because that word wasn't used in that context yet. It came into use after a horse named Upset beat Man o'War in a race at Saratoga, NY in 1919, the only loss of the great thoroughbred's career. It was so shocking, that the word became a regular part of sports language.

Horse racing's moniker is the Sports of Kings, but every now and then a peasant can strike it rich. Although odds are dictated by the betting action (the more money that is placed on a horse to win, the odds in turn go down to lower the payout if that horse wins), it is usually a direct reflection of what the public thinks. But having said that, people love an underdog story.

Great lessons can be learned from Giacomo. Not too many people gave the son of Holy Bull a chance, but with some divine intervention, he made the perfect trip and showed great heart.

East Carolina fans have always seemed to relish their underdog role. And the payout from victories like the "Floyd Bowl" victory over Miami in 1999 or the comeback Peach Bowl win over NC State on January 1st, 1992, gave all who witnessed it a memory of a lifetime. That's what makes sports great; the only guarantee is that there are no guarantees.

But just to keep things in perspective, 60 years ago a favorite celebrated the biggest win in American history, and we should all be glad there was no upset. If you see a World War II veteran, thank them for your freedom, and celebrate Victory Europe Day. We wouldn't have Giacomo to talk about without them.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com